Color Me Goodwill Spotlights Growing Trend in Sustainable Fashion


Color Me Goodwill Spotlights Growing Trend in Sustainable Fashion

  • Sarah Merrell

    Sarah Merrell serves as Community Director for Asheville Fashion Week and directs fashion shows in the area. She is the Digital Media and Production Manager for Mary Beth West...

Color Me Goodwill

As Earth Day approaches in April, plans are underway for Asheville’s Color Me Goodwill fashion show on April 28—a show that ties in well with sustainable, eco-friendly fashion.

I recently watched Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. The film focused on the concept of minimalism, and how it can be a tool for finding freedom, particularly from the consumerism of today’s world. We live in a country where over-consuming and over-spending is the norm, and it’s a norm that doesn’t make us happier as a society. Clothing, in particular, has become “throw-away,” and after a season of wear often winds up in a landfill.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 14.3 million tons of textiles are sent to the landfill each year, accounting of 5.7 percent of municipal solid waste generation in the United States.

As the director of the Color Me Goodwill fashion show, these statistics hit home for me. The premise of the fashion show is this: fashion designers take thrifty, second-hand clothing from Goodwill stores and upcycle it into new garments, giving pieces new life and purpose. A considerable amount of creativity is involved in taking old t-shirts or shower curtains and transforming them into something reimagined and better. The designs are handmade, one-of-a-kind, and sustainable.

Upcycled eco-fashion is a growing trend in the fashion industry in recent years. In Los Angeles, hip fashion company Reformation repurposes vintage clothing and rescues deadstock fabric from fashion houses that over-ordered, creating sophisticated styles. The brand recently launched an app that lets you know just how much water and energy you’ll be saving by buying their goods. ASOS Reclaimed Vintage, another example, takes fabrics from fashion houses like Dior and Lanvin and reworks them, upcycling them into new limited-edition collections.

L.A. and New York aren’t the only cities on the cusp of the upcycled trend. In Asheville, fashion designers have been upcycling items into garments for years while pursuing an ethical approach to fashion design and production. The Color Me Goodwill fashion show features a few of these players, all residing in Asheville:

  • Grateful Threads Organics: Participating in Color Me Goodwill for a third year, designer Leanna Echeverri creates clothing pieces that are sustainable and artistic with minimal impact to the environment in their creation and production. Grateful Threads’ clothing is affordable and conscionable with durable construction, high quality organic fabrics and low impact dyes—all cut and hand-sewn.
  • Kristin Alexandra Tidwell: A first-time designer for Color Me Goodwill, Tidwell utilizes her degree in costume design and extensive experience designing for Broadway plays and feature films to produce her collection of designs called Be Well. The garments are a combination of 100% recycled materials and renewable, performance and heritage textiles. Tidwell works with Sustainex, based in South Carolina, to produce these textiles, made from items like plastic bottles, x-ray film and even ketchup bottles.
  • McKinney Gough Design: Also participating in Color Me Goodwill for a third year is McKinney Gough—a designer specializing in custom costumes, historical fashion, hats and head pieces. Gough makes spectacular, wearable garments incorporating different media including paper, salvaged materials and natural materials. In October, Goodwill Industries helped inspire people to construct their own upcycled costumes. Goodwill provided Gough with $35 and invited her to make as many creations as she could. The end result was three gorgeous costumes demonstrating that a small budget and a lot of creativity can go a long way.
  • Amanda Rose Studios: A new designer for Color Me Goodwill, Amanda Rose is a self-taught seamstress who makes eco-friendly fashion with 99% recycled and vintage materials. Her tagline is “where the past and future play dress up.” Looking at her romantic styles with exquisite details and luxurious lace, it’s hard to believe they were once second-hand items.

The Color Me Goodwill fashion show will also feature Asheville designer Tricia Ellis, who stunned last year at the fashion show with her beautifully constructed black and white designs, and first-time Color Me Goodwill designer Caleb Owolabi, who incorporates colorfully splendid and attractive prints into his upcycled designs.

Residents from around the Asheville area and region are encouraged to attend. In addition to spotlighting the growing trend in sustainable fashion, the fashion show also raises awareness for Goodwill’s mission: transforming donations into jobs and job training for thousands of people in Western North Carolina. While Goodwill is often thought of as a network of second-hand stores, the organization also provides a wide range of training to help people develop the skills they need to find jobs and become more independent. These services are offered through their Workforce Development Centers and are in partnership with area community colleges, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Social Services, Mental Health and other community organizations.

Color Me Goodwill will take place Friday, April 28 at 6:00 p.m. at the Orange Peel in downtown Asheville. Tickets for the event are $15 and include a drink ticket. They are available through the Orange Peel box office. RSVP to the Facebook event to learn more and follow the latest news.

Each designer in Color Me Goodwill has selected a color their designs are inspired by, and the audience is invited to vote for their favorite designer vying to win a grand prize. As votes are counted, attendees will be entertained by a dog fashion show, compliments of the Asheville Humane Society.


While Color Me Goodwill is certain to entertain, it also touches on the far wider concept of sustainable fashion and minimalism. As citizens of a nation embroiled in consumerism, it will take time to transform our approach to fashion. With fashion shows like Color Me Goodwill, which raise awareness and showcase the uniqueness and beauty in upcycled fashion, we’re one step closer to healing the planet…one salvaged item at a time.



Photo Credits:

Photography - Dathan Brannon, Studio 27

Creative Direction - Cindy Cash, Sarah Merrell

Hair - Zhenya Lazarchuk

Makeup - Iliana Guardado

Models - Credella Credle, Makenzie Mull, Daisy Lane