We love collaborations, especially when it’s between two local nonprofits coming together to empower adults with disabilities through fashion. As part of Resource Depot’s REfashion Weekend 2023, the almost sold out Make Fashion Circular Designer Challenge will take place this Friday, Feb. 24 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Resource Depot and aZul Fashion, Art & Design, Inc. partnered to create a unique project featuring one-of-a-kind upcycled totes.
Over the past few weeks, aZul’s designers embellished blank tote bags with second-hand materials found at Resource Depot, a treasure trove of eco-conscious creativity. The selected designers have all taken part in the organization’s 20-week Follow The Thread fashion design program which is offered to adults with developmental disabilities. During their time in the program, students learn a wealth of valuable information and know-how about sustainable fashion design techniques, fabrication, branding and marketing strategies. Sandra Raffaelli, Founder and CEO of aZul, shared that “the first part in the empowering process was to activate creativity of our designers who are adults with unique abilities. Browsing through Resource Depot’s treasures gave them the chance to explore infinite possibilities for their creations. They experienced creative freedom selecting objects that would help them express their concept on the tote bags, just like a Project Runway adventure.”
I visited the Resource Depot to take a first-hand look and I must say how cool these totes came out. Each designer’s vision was unique and the level of execution was truly impressive. “Knowing that their bags would be showcased and sold at REfashion Weekend inspired them to give their 100%,” says Raffaelli. “Artistic recognition is the second part of the empowering experience. When our designers get to participate in community events and are recognized for their talents instead of their conditions it allows them to walk taller, proud of their abilities and excited to be included.” These stylish “REfashionable” totes will be on sale during this Friday’s VIP Preview Party with proceeds benefitting both organizations.
REfashion Weekend will continue on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Resource Depot with their Fill-a-Bag Shopping Spree. Shoppers will purchase large recycled bags for $25 to fill with as much clothing, shoes, and accessories as they can. It’s a fun concept that, once again, encourages us to be more mindful about our environmental footprint. As Resource Depot’s largest fundraiser of the year, Executive Director Jennifer O’Brien is leading the charge on normalizing the idea of secondhand items. “People need clothes. And while clothing is not normally a donation we accept on a regular basis, we saw a great opportunity for a conversation with the community about ‘greening’ their shopping habits when it comes to their wardrobe. Did you know the average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year? That’s about 11 million tons of textile waste produced every year by just the United States alone! And beyond wearing things again, all that waste is unnecessary as textiles can be repurposed into a number of things including sports fields, insulation for buildings, pillow stuffing and paper money. REfashion Weekend gives shoppers that chance to slow down the fashion cycle with previously-loved, new-to-you clothing and accessories while saving the planet,” says O’Brien.
After a special tour of Resource Depot with O’Brien, I encourage everyone to rethink some of their shopping habits and also consider donating items, including arts and crafts goodies, magazines, decor tiles, and more. It’s part of an ecosystem that can be fun in the process, igniting creativity and new ways of applying things, as exemplified by the aZul designers. In the meantime, come on out to the Resource Depot this weekend to support two amazing nonprofits making a difference in more ways than one.
For more information on all events visit https://www.resourcedepot.org/refashion-weekend
Resource Depot; 2508 Florida Avenue, West Palm Beach; resourcedepot.org
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