Have you ever thought about the challenges of being a fashion designer? I asked Angela Johnson, a clothing designer who handcrafts gowns, dresses, and other clothing from recycled T-shirts from Scottsdale Arizona, why she was inspired to use recycled material (from thrift stores) as her fabric of choice. Her's what she told me.
AJ: "I originally worked in Los Angeles, California, where there is a major fashion industry and had everything very easily accessible to me. But I had to move back to my hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona in 2000, when my Grandmother passed away to take care of my Grandfather. I knew there wasn’t much of a chance to work in the fashion industry in Arizona so I stopped for a year or so until I realized that I could make one of a kind garments from what does exist here….thrift store clothing..."
T-Shirt party dress (or knee length gown) made from thrifted and vintage T-Shirts. Photographer: www.NicolleClemetson.com, Wardrobe Stylist: Shannon Campbell, Make up: Lorri Mitchell, Hair: Luis Solis, Model: Jade Pruittthrifted and vintage T-shirts. made from Thrifted and Vintage T-shirts.
Each dress made by Johnson is unique because she makes them with T-shirts that she 'scavenges' at the time a dress is made. Here's my favorite part. When you read the descriptions that accompany all of Johnson's creations you see this statement, "WARNING: Angela's sense of humor will be included in all dresses. This may include logos or sayings that may be offensive to some customers."
For example, you can see the funny statement that appears on the front of the beautiful black ball gown below, "My girlfriend is out of town." Or, check out the large "Heinz Tomato Ketchup" label on the rich red evening gown below.
Ball Gown made from thrifted and vintage T-shirts. Photographer: www.NicolleClemetson.com, Wardrobe Stylist: Shannon Campbell, Make up: Lorri Mitchel, Hair: Luis Solis, Models: Jade Pruitt.
Red tight Tshirt evening gown
If you don't want to leave the T-shirt choices up to Johnson, you can supply your own.
I asked Johson what sets her apart from other designers using recycled materials as the basis for their fashion. Here's what she said: "I’d say the thing that sets me apart from other designers who redesign thrift clothing is that I don’t just take a T-shirt and cut off a sleeve or something…I actually treat the shirts as fabric using many shirts and quilt them together before I trace my pattern piece on it. It sometimes takes 20+ shirts to make one garment of mine."
T-shirt side ruffle skirt. Photographer: www.NicolleClemetson.com,Wardrobe Stylist: Shannon Campbell, Make up: Lorri Mitchel, Hair: Luis Solis, Models: Jade Pruitt.
Not only does Johnson design and make T-shirt fashion, but she teaches fashion and merchandising at Mesa Community College and is the current coordinator for the Scottsdale Fashion Week Designer of the Year competition, among other things.
I think Johnson's designs are elegant. Just look at the innovative ruffles she built into the skirt above. I also like that she inserts humor into her creations. So, put it all together and you have some pretty unique, flattering, and affordable fashion that should create a stir when you wear it.
Want to see more? Go to Angela Johnson Designs.