Thread Up Oxford wants the clothes to take you off – once you’re done with them.
The association’s mission is to reduce textile waste while providing residents with a variety of recycled clothing.
Founder Shana Rosenberg said she had a long-standing love for the fabric. She grew up sewing with her mother and watching elaborate costumes backstage on Broadway and turned her love into an entrepreneurial passion. She said she hopes to create a sartorial culture change in the community.
“With the name, I wanted to come up with something that is both green and community focused, so Thread Up Oxford is literally about bringing the community together to work on this local change,” she said.
Rosenberg started a Facebook group, “Put on Oxford, Ohio,“in March. This is where the organization makes its community outreach, giving people the chance to share what they know about the fabric, the textile industry and the projects they are working on. Rosenberg said that she wanted to make sure everyone felt like she was part of the textile reduction solution.The group currently has over 450 active members.
Because of these ties to the local community, Rosenberg got involved in the Social Impact Program of the University of Miami’s Western Program. The students helped Rosenberg with the branding and created a GoFundMe campaign. A biology professor also contacted her about a guest lecture for a class at the university.
In April, Thread Up Oxford held its first textile campaign in the Oxford Lane Library car park. The drive collected around 2,700 pounds of textiles, including sheets, blankets, clothes and even simple socks.
Thread Up Oxford targets the ever growing problem of the fast fashion industry. According to a 2018 article posted on the open access website Environmental health, “Fast Fashion” describes readily available, inexpensive clothing designed to move quickly from fashion shows to stores and customers in a rapidly repeating cycle. This creates a constant demand for new clothes and a constant elimination of old ones.
According to Environmental Health, the average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing and textiles per year, taking up nearly 5% of landfill space. Fast fashion encourages the idea that clothes can be made inexpensively and easily disposable.
“When you look at the fast fashion issues, it’s very cultural,” Rosenberg said. “We think we need to change our clothes every few months, but we don’t need to overuse clothes. You can donate to Goodwill, or even donate to a church, anything to keep it out of a landfill.
Some recipients of Thread Up Oxford’s recycled textiles include vets at the Care Center in Blue Ash, who received towels to use in their clinic, and the Oxford Cares school backpack program. The program also donated clothing to the Oxford Family Resource Center and students in Talawanda.
Oxford resident Andrea Yaeger has had several experiences with the organization. At the reception, she posted on the Facebook group that she needed a costume for her son, and Rosenberg quickly informed her that she had the perfect set of items to give away. Yaeger’s daughter and her friends also purchased their second-hand evening dresses through Thread Up Oxford.
Rosenberg also convinced Yaeger to donate a t-shirt from a fundraising event to the initiative, explaining how too many shirts are produced for one-off events.
“The messages from Thread Up Oxford really made us pay more attention to what we buy and where it ends,” Yaeger said.
Another frequent donor to Oxford is Marion Schloemer. Responsible for relocation and removal, she uses the association to drop off her clients’ old textiles.
“We are seeing more and more people of retirement age choosing to stay in Oxford,” said Schloemer. “I think people in transition find they have textiles they no longer need, but want to avoid landfills. I think Thread Up can have an impact on the Oxford community by providing an avenue for it. “
Rosenberg said she dreams of having a retail space big enough to open a clothing bank. Such a facility could include a “manufacturing space” where tools, fabrics, ribbons and cutting boards are available for anyone who wants to experiment with design, she said. Ultimately, the organization would like to partner with a fiber recycling company to collect textile waste from the community, she said.
In the more immediate future, customers can pick up Thread Up Oxford at the weekly Uptown Farmers Market, near the cabbage stand. Participants can paint treat bags made from recycled pillowcases while learning to reuse the textiles they have available. Other projects Thread Up hopes to host are mending clinics and recycling workshops, as well as ongoing monthly clothing drives.