about: torrented (who, what, when, where & why)
When I was five, I wore the same faux cow-printed matching separates every day for a year.
This outfit can only be described as "ahead of its time"—at a young age, I understood the fashionable functionality of matching separates. I also loved the cow pattern… and I had no idea that people actually wore real animal skin. So, I was delighted with this outfit's ability to let me both like cows and borrow their natural fashion sense.
After a few or twelve months, I started to understand that it wasn't "cool" to wear the same thing all of the time. By this, I mainly mean that I started to notice rude comments from my peers about being an outfit repeater. My Grandma also tried to buy me a set of leopard matching separates to get me to stop wearing the same thing to every family gathering (at which, of course, I scoffed).
Eventually, I moved on from my beloved cow set, but every once and awhile, I would find it stuffed in the back of one of my "4th-tier” outfit drawers and take it for a spin again. I kept that outfit until it was too small to reasonably keep, at which point my mother helped me to donate it.
Me, age eight, rocking the arm socks.
Fashion has been an interest of mine for a long time. My Mom was imperceptibly disappointed to learn that by age four, I was already showing extremely strong preferences for what I considered wearable, and what I considered unwearable.
This early interest in fashion matured into a bourgeois version of Carrie Bradshaw's shoe addiction around age 16 (If that seems too early to be like Carrie Bradshaw, let's face it: Carrie is an immature character written purely for niche entertainment…she’s pretty much a toddler with a credit card).
My purchases were the opposite of practical: For brief moments, I was in love with each pair of shoes, pants or what-have-you.
Around age 19, I realized that I had a problem, so I started going to Retail Anonymous. Retail Anonymous is a service located in most cities and towns and goes by the alternate name of "Goodwill."
Thrift stores are fun. Just moments after your entry, you're welcomed by an overwhelming odor that can only be placed to the deepest recesses of your Grandma's closet.
Filling the entire space of these stores are racks upon racks of abandoned textile. Along the walls, there are absurd outfits on mannequins that store employees clearly have a blast creating, as they don't actually care if you like them or not.
It's much more fun to shop at a thrift store and discover an unwanted gem than it is to shop at your extremely overpriced mall, or fight through the barrage of cheap boots and the “Mondays SUCK” blazers at Forever 21.
It's also therapeutic for shopping addicts, because it helps you realize where your donations might end up: lost amidst a stagnant sea of old t-shirts and ugly blazers.
This brings us, dear reader, to the project goal of torrented: reducing textile waste.
A problem that has arisen in the fashion industry over the past few decades is something called fast fashion.
Fast fashion is a modern term used to describe the increasing speed with which styles and designs move from catwalks to stores and back again.
Although there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with this trend on the surface (I imagine Moms and sneaker-addicts alike saying things like, “More Yeezys? What’s the problem!”), global markets tend to complicate things.
Retail giants like Zara and Forever 21 thrive on churning out carbon-copied styles that end up in the trash faster than those flyers you get on the street in New York. Remember gauchos? Yeah, me either.
The global fast fashion industry generates more than 15 million tons of textile waste per year in the US alone. The synthetic fabrics that "fast fashion clothes" are made out of take hundreds of years to decompose, and tend to bore you after a few months or a year—so you’ll just end up buying more. This makes this modern issue a risky one for both the environment and your wallet.
Donating all of this unwanted clothing is better than throwing it out—which the average American does at about 80 lbs a year, but only 0.1% of fabrics collected by charities, take-back programs and stores like Goodwill get recycled into new textile: A small percentage are sold, an even smaller percentage makes it into the hands of the needy, and the rest of it is thrown away.
Upcycling is a solution to this “negative positive” feedback loop: By taking perfectly good, high-quality fabrics and repurposing them with a design that will keep you interested for years to come, we can help reduce textile waste and promote sustainable fashion.
I have come a long way since that cow-printed set. I no longer bother shopping at fast fashion stores, and I remain highly cognizant of my ability to rapidly expand my wardrobe. In college, I opted to begin shopping almost exclusively at thrift stores. Recently, I have continued with this choice and if I’m going to buy something new, I will only do it from a brand that is committed to sustainability in textile production.
Since 2015, I’ve begun designing recycled textile by removing the fabric dye in varied ways, among other alteration techniques. I was inspired to begin doing this while working for NGO The Fresh Air Fund, where I spilled bleach on my black Vans while cleaning. I loved the pattern, and after a lot of positive comments from friends, I decided to do more of it.
I’ve named the project torrented as a reference to its ability to share quality content with minimal bandwidth.
Each of my garments are uniquely made of cotton, and are hand-picked, designed, and made with love instead of sweat. To purchase or commission a piece, please visit my shop or my contact page.
Thank you for reading.