Wayre to Find Sustainable Fashion

By Alexa Smith

Wayre modelsThroughout our Earth Day series, we’ve talked about different ways to be sustainable in all aspects of your life. From recycling to looking for cruelty-free products there are various ways to incorporate a green initiative into your own life. Many people don’t know that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters globally which is why it’s so important to find ways to be fashionable and sustainable. An easy way to do that is through Wayre a sustainable fashion brand focused on providing “apparel for the modern traveler” 

I spoke with Wayre co-founder, Rachael Kemp, about Wayre’s mission and her tips for being sustainable in everyday life. 

Interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Alexa Smith: “Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Wayre and how y’all got started?”

Rachael Kemp: So the conceptualization for Wayre started about two and a half years ago. I have been an avid traveler my entire life and I traveled a lot throughout college. When I was in college there was a specific trip that I was on, my classic post-grad Euro trip. Every time I went to get dressed I kept returning to this simple pale blue dress. And I wore it everywhere for a month. In the last two days of my trip I was in Sevilla, Spain and left that dress in a hostel. Ever since I left that dress I just kind of mourned, wishing I had it anytime I went to travel again. Packing for a trip had become a hassle because I didn’t really have my go-to pieces. When you travel you always think: “what is the weather going to be like? What am I going to do when I’m there?” Just so many questions that you go through trying to predict what’s going to happen when you travel. You want to look good and feel good at the same time. So that was just a personal kind of spark that started Wayre. Then about two years later the idea actually started coming into development. My co-founder and brother-in-law, Chris, and I launched a Kickstarter campaign back in July of 2019 and were looking to raise $50,000 and we raised about $90,000. That gave us enough money to basically jumpstart wayre. We like to say, “we make apparel for the modern traveler” it’s lightweight and breathable. It’s built to keep up with you. It’s functional, cute, and just solves your packing dilemmas.

Wayre modelNot only is Wayre focused on creating functional and stylish pieces, they’re also focused on creating a sustainable brand that’s great for fashion and the environment. Kemp touched on these points when discussing the formation of Wayre. 

RK: We make everything in a sustainable and ethical factory. Our fabric is all made from post-consumer plastic waste. We have a big sustainability component, it’s a core value of our brand. When we began the brand, I actually had worked in the fashion industry a couple of years prior to launching Wayre and the one thing I told myself was I will never ever work in the fashion industry again without having sustainability as a core value. I just watched the industry from the inside as I was managing production. The textile waste, energy consumption and poor workplace practices are just really inhumane. That was a core value of Wayre from the start.

AS: Could you also touch on Wayre’s labor practices? 

RK: When we were sourcing our fabric and sourcing which factories we would work with we didn’t even look at factories that didn’t have ethical and sustainable practices ongoing already. We did a lot of research on the manufacturer we work with now. Another part of our process before we did any sort of development was with them was to visit the factory. We decided we would just fly there ourselves, ask a lot of questions, look behind all the closed doors and talk to the garment workers ourselves about what it is like to work at Everest Textiles – that’s the name of the manufacturer. They’re located in Tainan, Taiwan which is the south side of the island. We got a vibe for their happiness and their well being. I personally came away from that initial factory visit just completely mind blown. This company, Everest Textiles, is on the forefront of sustainability. 

Kemp discussed all the different amenities Everest Textiles provides their employees. Not only are the employees paid a living wage but there is free housing available on site, a mandatory nap time at lunch, affordable meals, workouts and gardens for the employees. 

RK: We really love our team. The ethical side is a major component because people on our planet should absolutely be first instead of the product. We just love to rave about our manufacturer. We just think they do such a stellar job. 

AS: Yeah I love that and I’ve noticed just how transparent y’all are too. Y’all have a whole Instagram highlight about your manufacturer. It’s just awesome to see a brand be so proud of where they’re making their clothes and not try to hide it like other brands might. 

RK: Yeah, it’s kind of trendy to become sustainable and ethical. It’s cool but it’s also kind of unfortunate because you do see a lot of greenwashing these days where fast fashion companies or other companies that don’t really have the same actual values and sustainable, ethical practices just kind of greenwash and make it look to the consumer like they’re doing a good job, but nothing’s changed internally. So it’s kind of sad that it’s trendy. I mean it’s also a good thing; it’s a good movement to have but you definitely have to be careful where you consume your products. 

AS: Yeah definitely that’s so true. We just wrote an article on greenwashing a few months ago. You’re right it is such a trend now so it’s hard to kind of tell the real from the fake. So, I’m wondering if you have any other ways you like to be sustainable whether that’s in fashion or other areas of your life? 

RK: I mean I’m nowhere close to perfect nor does my lifestyle completely focus on sustainability. But I truly try to do my part the very best that I can. The world has made unsustainable options very convenient while sustainable options are very inconvenient. But small things, I’ve invested in a lot of home goods that help keep the plastic waste down in my house. Like, using reusable Ziploc bags and reusable straws and composting. And using a guppy friend bag when I do laundry. We actually just posted on Instagram about washing your Wayre and synthetics in a guppy friend bag but also there are lots of laundry habits you can do to help save energy and the ocean. I just try to consume from brands that have similar values to Wayre and just do my part in my everyday living even if its a little less convenient I think there’s an intentionality there that makes it kind of unique and fun. 

AS: I agree. It’s hard to sometimes feel like you’re doing enough when so many bad things are happening with the environment. It’s important like you said to just think of little things you can do. 

RK: Yeah we can’t all save the planet every single day by doing mass gestures but we can all do small things. If we can change our small habits and we can do it collectively as an international people then we can make big changes but it requires all the manpower we have to all change our habits. But yes all about the little steps of getting there instead of feeling super guilty when you use a straw once. 

AS: Do you have any other sustainable brands whether that be in clothing or anything else that you’ve been loving lately? 

RK: Yeah! I love Girlfriend Collective if you’re not familiar with them they’re awesome. They’re a great brand. I love what they’re all about. I also really love Reformation and Patagonia. I think those are probably my favorite right off the top of my head. Another brand called Whimsy and Row I think they’re all based in Los Angeles as well. I’m all about shopping vintage; that’s really helpful. Or do clothing swaps with your friends. Utilizing Poshmark or shopping secondhand is awesome. I think the most sustainable thing you can do for your wardrobe is just to consume less in general. The fashion industry is I think the second or third largest pollutant in the world. And I think the only way we can really minimize waste is if there’s less of a demand. And that means purchasing less. That’s even me coming from a small brand who’s like, “yes please buy my clothes!” If you buy things that you love and you just hold onto those pieces for longer rather than buying something that’s just trendy and you’re gonna wear twice and throw away I mean the better option is to invest. Invest in your wardrobe and find pieces that you really really love that you’re gonna hold on to. 

AS:  The thing to me that makes Wayre such a great investment they’re so easy to pair with stuff and also the pockets! The pockets on your shorts and the dress they’re just amazing. There are pockets on the side there’s like a secret boob pocket in the dress. Y’all thought of everything. 

RK: Honestly, in the design process for myself I was just kind of being selfish and thinking, “If I’m gonna wear these shorts a million times what do I need them to have?” And I personally designed them on a selfish basis. But, yeah I agree just trying to make something that’s functional so that it does last you a really long time is our goal. 

Fast Fashion Versus Thrifting

The Pros and Cons of Two Trending Fashion Concepts

Written by McKenna Bailey

If you’ve ever fallen down an Internet rabbit hole, then you’ve probably ran into the trending fashion concepts of “fast fashion” and/or “thrifting.” However, if you haven’t heard of these popular trends then here is the lowdown.

“Fast fashion” is a term used by clothing retailers to describe fashion designs and items that move quickly from the catwalk to stores at cheaper prices.

“Thrifting” is the act of visiting second-hand shops, vintage clothing stores, garage sales, or charitable organization clothing stores in the hopes of finding cheap and trendy clothing.

So why are these methods, of staying in fashion while still being affordable, so trendy? One possible reason is because people are more environmentally and economically aware, says Devin Heitt, an online reporter on the Oudaily website.

Environmental awareness comes with thrifting only while economic awareness comes with thrifting and fast fashion. The best way to save money is by saving our planet also.

According to Oudaily, besides the fact that fast fashion shopping and thrifting is also a popular pastime among friends, it’s also a big hit among the Youtuber gurus.

Famous YouTube stars like Emma Chamberlain or other YouTuber’s whose channels are devoted to thrifting and fast fashion hauls like Carrie Dayton and Alexa Sunshine83 have spread far and wide across the platform and into the eyes of the viewers.

With the heavy influence that YouTuber’s and social media influencers have on their audience, it’s no wonder, fast fashion and thrifting are a big hit.

Before you decide which fashion method is best for you, or which method you will use, let’s examine the pros and cons of each, and you can decide for yourself.

According to the online news and lifestyle website The Good Trade , with fast fashion, anyone can support small and local retail business’ by purchasing fast fashion items from them. You will also find the item you are looking for faster using fast fashion over thrifting.

The fast fashion products may also be in better condition than if you were to find a used product in a thrift shop. However, The Good Trade says most retailers produce fast fashion at low cost, which makes the products low quality.

There are also ethical and economic reasons to consider when buying fast fashion. According to research done by the Rubicon group, a business dedicated to analyzing data, 11 million tons of fast fashion clothing is thrown out every year in America.

The Rubicon also stated in their findings that certain popular brands that carry fast fashion have harmful dyes, toxins, or synthetic fabrics that can affect the water supply in country where the fashion products were produced.

According to the Odyssey, an online news and community lifestyle website, the benefits of thrifting include saving the environment because buying clothes from a thrifting shop prevents those clothes from going to a landfill.

Sometimes, the clothes will even cheaper at thrifting shops than at retailers. Unless you buy thrifted clothes from a huge second-hand business, you will be helping most non-profit organizations and charities.

Some of the disadvantages of thrifting include the long time it takes to sort through the many, often unorganized, clothing items. Often the clothes have no warranty and no return policy, says the Odyssey.

The worlds of fast fashion and thrifting are both equally fun and exciting! So what will you choose, if you decide to thrift or fast fashion shop at all?

Fashion Incubator Celebrates Grand Opening

Story and Photos by – Ruben Hernandez

The ACC Fashion Incubator recently celebrated its grand opening at ACC Highland, drawing in many students, faculty, and community members. The Fashion Incubator gives students an opportunity to learn skills utilized within the fashion industry, and work with local designers and businesses to help create a thriving fashion community in Austin. The grand opening was lead by its Director, Nina Means, on Tuesday, April 30.

“One of the reasons that the city of Austin approached us to start this program is because of the benefit that ACC has,” Means said. “We are really good at workforce development. We know how to prepare people to go back into the workforce. The city said, ‘How many different ways can you help people monetize their skills?’ If you come in with no knowledge, this is your opportunity to dip your toes in the continuing education classes to find out if this is something you really want to do.”

The Incubator is to serve as not only a way for students to learn new skills regarding fashion, but also as a medium for local businesses to grow.

“We’re also creating the most viable environment for a new start-up businesses to get housed,” Means said. “We do this so that they can get over what a lot of small businesses have a hard time with, like product development, which is an expensive experience.”

While fashion has its own style, it is essential that components of the fashion industry, like the Incubator, collaborates with other fields in order for it to truly flourish.

“Fashion is for everybody and is inclusive,” Means said. “That’s the message we want to promote from the Incubator. We’re devoted to being inclusive as an incubator and as a student experience. We also want to be collaborative and interdisciplinary with all the other departments of the college. How many different ways can we engage computer science? How can we engage the marketing team? If I could leave you with anything, that’s really core to how we operate. It’s an art.”

Both Gerber technology and the city of Austin have made investments in this incubator, hoping that it would grow to be a successful venue and resource for those using it. They have both invested a total of 13.1 million dollars towards equipment in software and hardware.

“We help small businesses by leveraging the Gerber technology system we have here,” Means said. “Gerber has really invested in giving us a high-tech solution to be able to help businesses grow. Not only are we going to give you the scholastic tools to succeed, but also the tactical tools as well.”

The Incubator was also made to appeal to local businesses in Austin, not only by teaching students the skills that employers are looking for, but also by giving the employers a chance to teach the students themselves.

“The local industry component is huge for us,” Means said. “One of the things we are striving to do with our sample working space is mirroring a lot of the equipment that is in a lot of local manufacturers here. This is so that you have a chance to train on the equipment that you would utilize in a manufacturing facility somewhere here in Austin. We train you here, and a local Austin business hires you, ready to go.”

Hands-on experience is something that many employers value, regardless of field. Attaining this experience as a student is valuable.

“Something like the Incubator allows the students to not only gain the academic knowledge, but to have hands-on experience with the software and hardware,” ACC President Richard Rhodes said. “The purpose is to actually take that concept and do something with it. It doesn’t stop there. There are other small start-up businesses that are using this space, so they have exposure and access to those entrepreneurs who are developing product. They get all of those skill sets wrapped together.”

Starting through the Fashion Incubator isn’t hard, either. Means and her team of educators are making sure students have what they need to succeed.

“Through the Incubator, you can take a group of fashion design classes through continuing education, and know enough to intern or even be a design assistant depending on how proficient you were before you started,” Means said. “If you’re interested in continuing your skills, we’re offering more advanced courses geared towards industry professionals who may not be working in the industry currently, but would like to be.”

Connections that the Incubator has with other businesses and groups has played a part in putting the whole project together, and ultimately, has the potential to help it reach success through sustainability and scalability.

“One of the great things about having good partners is that really creates the sustainability for the future and the scalability is in the outreach,” Rhodes said. “That is, outreach to schools, community, and community groups. The question is, ‘How do we bring those who have that passion to understand that we have a place for them right here at ACC?’”

The Incubator will also introduce The Vault, an opportunity for fashion design students to connect with local professionals and businesses.

“The Vault is an advisor network of local industry professionals that are in the woodwork and have raised their hands as being interested in what we’re doing here,” Means said. Those people are going to be available to advise our students and start-up businesses along the way.”

As one would expect, the classes here start with an Introduction to Fashion Design class. From there, it expands.

“I’m already designing stuff at home,” Callin said. “I’ve got eight or nine designs I’ve done already. I make mockups out of muslin, a cheap fabric, and then I have someone come and try those on. From there, seeing how it fits the model, I refine my design. Then, I can make it out of the nice and expensive fabric.”

Many different elements need to be taken into consideration when it comes to seeing how a design fits a person.

“For a garment to look good, it has to hang well on a person,” Callin said. “It has to compliment them, otherwise it looks like they are wearing an oversized trash bag. You have to have some idea of human anatomy to be able to make the clothes that go on that body, and do it in a way that’s going to be flattering.”

Designs are specific, as designing for a broad range of people can lead to problems. Narrowing down who you’re designing for seems to be most efficient.

“Certain companies market to certain body sizes and shapes, and as a designer you have to go down those paths,” Callin said. “You have to really pick the person you are designing for,. It can’t be everybody, otherwise you won’t have a consistent theme and you aren’t going to be successful. But, whatever path you go down, in my mind what you need to do is make sure that whatever you’re making is high quality. That will bring people back.”

Designing specifically for one group will also help you develop ideas further ahead when it comes to how you will approach your next design. Observing how your audience wears their clothes and what they do afterward is also key to your next step.

“Fashion is how we interact with clothing, and is more than a runway or modeling,” Means said. “Our trends that we operate from is driven just as much from the customer as it is from the retailer. Often times, it is observing how you like putting your pant with your top. From there, it’s generating what we think will be your next best option, that way it spurs your next purchase. In a broad space, it is a conversation.”

ACC offers many different programs ranging from a vast variety of fields, from video game design to culinary skills. Fashion will be another field that ACC will hold under its belt.

“It’s important to keep a diverse set of programs at ACC because we have students with so many different passions,” Rhodes said. “How do we provide, for those students, the opportunity to be successful? Not only that, but to be able to earn a living as a result of that. That’s a critical component.”

Cosplaying Characters

Written by Marianna Foran

The sun is rising and your bank account suffers from cardiac arrest. The bathroom smells like Urban Decay makeup as the face staring back in the mirror is now a mask for the next 24 hours. This created identity allows many to practice, cosplay.

“I like it more as an escape,” psychology major Kai Arguelles says. “When you go to the convention it’s a three to four day weekend of just complete fun with strangers, that you connect with on a different level because you like the same thing.”

Dressing up, for many, has its pros and cons. “I like it more as a theatrical appeal,” theater major Tori McElroy says.

“The best way to decide what character you want to be, is to choose somebody you really connect with or admire,” Arguelles says. “Some people like to pick characters that are completely the opposite of them, because they get to be somebody else.”

The term cosplay was invented by Japanese reporter Nov Takashki. Looking to combine the words costume and play, Takashki introduced this term to the world while covering the World Con in 1984.

Cosplay has continued to grow, with the largest attendance on record in 2013 at Comiket with 590,000 players. Costumes vary at every convention in skill level.

McElroy says she chooses her characters for the fun of making a costume. “It’s something small…also, [I like] to see how it goes with my sewing skills,” she says.

And in fandom. Some of the more popular categories of fans focus on Anime (66.9%), video games (70.6%) and comics (36.1%), according to cosplaycalamity.com.

According to the Daily Dot, 32.1% of cosplayers spend between $100-$200 on their costumes, while 27.7% spend $200-$400 on each of their costumes.

Some cosplay to take a break from daily occurrences.

“My family was alright with cosplay as long as I’m happy. It’s another way to express my artistic self.” McElroy says.

Arguelles says, “My family thinks cosplay is a little weird but they’re OK with it, I guess.”

One thing cosplayers seem to have in common, is their love for stepping into someone else’s shoes for a day and walking out into public.

“I would love to keep cosplaying 10 years from now,” Arguelles says. “It’s such a great experience and a great pass time for all ages there. There is no restriction, which is what’s so nice about it. Plus the older you get, the more experience you get, and the better your cosplays turn out.”

“I think I will continue because it’s fun to be a completely different character or person,” McElroy says.

Cosplay Costume

Fashion Forward

Story by Caitlin McDermott • Campus Reporter

Texas weather is throwing this fall season for a loop with its warm temperatures. But November has finally arrived and a cool breeze is waiting to make its grand entrance and give the “go-ahead” for eagerly anticipated cold weather fashion trends.

The arrival of a new season excites many in ways that promote splurging at the mall or sneaking in some online shopping during class, but breaking the bank is not the answer.

“I love that I get to add more elements to my sum- mer clothes without having to do so much shopping,” ACC student Natalie Rees said. “Cute tights, little sweaters and leg warmers are my favorites that help make the transition to colder weather more tolerable.”

There is no need to pay full price for the current trends that are often advertised in magazines and displayed on billboards around town. Look at what is already hanging in your closet, and make it work.

A major staple in any cold weather wardrobe is leather

riding boots, which made a debut on last fall’s runway and have returned this year with a vengeance.

Although Ugg boots shouldn’t have too much competition here, the grow- ing leather fad just might have America’s favorite sheepskin and suede duo backed into a corner.

But, don’t worry Aussie lovers. While riding boots are a great choice for date nights and rainy days, comfy Uggs are loyal companions for er- rands, laundromat visits and long days on campus.

ACC student Millena Justa said, “I love scarves, riding boots and oversized sweaters! The hot weather makes it impossible to wear my comfy fall outfits because it becomes uncomfortable. Can’t wait until it’s finally chilly!”

As for the male audience, keep it fresh, casual and comfortable.

Guys look great when they style accordingly and successfully match prints and patterns.

ACC student Tomas Lober said, “The thing I like about fall is getting to wear sweats, but other than that there is not much change in my outfit.”

Sweats and sport shoes definitely work. An athletic look is attractive year-round and gives the impression of a physically fit dude.

In order to extend the use of favorite pieces from summer, add light layers, and to make the most of your budget, hold off on any major shopping until Black Friday.

Look forward to all the Thanksgiving season has to offer. Dust off the boots and beanies, then get out there and strut your stuff!