By Rae Hill
At Origami Customs, we are committed to being an ethical clothing brand. We’re constantly striving to do better in supporting our community and the environment, and we do that in as many ways as possible.
Our latest collection is yet another stand against waste in the fashion industry.
The EPA states that landfills receive over 11 million tons of textiles each year. The fashion industry is one of the worst industries for water and plastic pollution and contributes an estimated 10% of global carbon emissions. (Gross!)
So how do we make sure that we’re a sustainable fashion brand? Well, in a lot of ways, but one of the main ones is sourcing only eco-friendly fabrics. We carefully choose ethically sourced fabric from things like Deadstock.
That is how and why this new collection was born.
Deadstock is a fabric that hasn’t been able to sell, and so is destined for the landfill. When I was shopping for materials one day, I came across some beautiful Deadstock green elastic and saved it from being garbage!
Then came Dorine, our head seamstress who lives for recycling and reusing. She noticed this gorgeous elastic didn't quite fit with our current pieces due to its size and color. Of course, it deserved to be the star of its own collection, so we started the design process.
Using only materials we already had on our hands, we created this new sensual yet comfortable capsule collection. It’s made entirely from fabrics we had on hand, all of which are sustainable or upcycled fabrics.
Then we made it even more awesome!
We’re constantly striving to create the best gender-affirming lingerie. We’re introducing an option to choose different gusset sizes for any bottoms. Which helps let us know how much room we build into any garment.
So each piece will fit any human, regardless of what’s in their pants! This collection is another step towards even better gender affirmation care and a more gender-fluid shopping experience.
I interviewed Dorine about her groundbreaking upcoming collection!
Rae: What do you do at Origami Customs and what’s your background in fashion?
Dorine: I’m the Lead Seamstress at Origami Customs, which means that I make most of the core collection and bamboo pieces, and I create content for our social media.
This is the first Origami Customs collection that I’ve designed. I don’t actually have a background in fashion. I have three diplomas in art and design with a focus on architecture.
I do, however, have my own brand of upcycled underwear. After I got my last diploma, I was bored and I didn’t want to work in an office or an architecture firm. I was used to thrifting and crafting, and with my background in design sewing came naturally.
I just started to mess around with my sewing machine and I didn’t think I would like it that much but I never really stopped! It just felt right. Actually, the very very first piece that I put through my sewing machine was a pair of panties. Now it’s my job!
Rae: Why were you drawn to lingerie?
Dorine: When I started sewing I wanted to make something small because I thought that it would be easier. I didn’t know anything about sewing so I didn’t know that stretchy materials were more complicated!
I saw a tutorial on how to make underwear from T-shirt material so I just jumped in. It made a lot of sense because I had a lot of thrifted materials already. I started an Instagram for myself, to track my progress, people loved it and one day I saw this queer underwear company was hiring and thought “this is for me”. And it was Origami Customs.
Also, I love butts.
Rae: What was your inspiration for this collection?
Dorine: Two things- Firstly, it came from the material that we already had. I think that’s usually how my process starts. I tend to build a piece with the things that I have instead of designing and then trying to find materials. I feel like it’s easier to make something out of what you already have.
I saw that green elastic that’s different from what we had- a different size, a different texture, and different stretch. We couldn’t make our existing pieces with it so we had to find a place for it. That’s kind of how it came together - as a jumping-off point.
The second thing was that I was working off of designs that we already have in the core collection. I was taking the basic pieces and reimagining them with more details, in a more creative way.
If you have something to work with it’s easier than making something from scratch. I think it’s natural to create new designs when you’re already working with the material. It’s cool to let your imagination run with it.
Rae: Where does the name of the collection, “Ortie,” come from?
So, I wanted a botanical name for the collection because it revolves around sustainability, growth, resilience, and it is created around this beautiful rich green elastic that wraps around your body like a beautiful plant.
Ortie is french for the stinging nettle, this plant have been suggested by many people, (shout out to my friends who created Le café des orties), and for good reason. Although it is considered a weed, stinging nettle is highly nutritious. It has been used in Western herbal medicine since at least the times of Ancient Greece. It's known to help with inflammation, blood pressure, it prevents numerous diseases and has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, among other benefits. Not to mention it used to be used as a fiber, just like cotton or hemp. So it really is an amazing plant despite its bad reputation.
It really spoke to me because as a queer company that uses lots of recycled materials and deadstock, we know very well that sometimes valuable things get overlooked.
Rae: What does sustainability mean to you?
To me it's really about reflecting on what I can do at my level to reduce negative impact on the environment, going for the better option everytime I can. That mean shopping small, local, better quality when I can afford it.
I try to also remember that most of the environmental issues we have come from big corporations, at the end of the day, it's all about harm reduction and actively trying to do my best.
Rae: Why was it important to find sustainable materials and use Deadstock for this collection?
Dorine: I feel really bad throwing away materials or objects that I don’t use. I’m used to finding a use for everything that I have and reusing everything I can.
I'm only thirty years old and I’ve already seen what fast fashion does to the environment. The environmental footprint of a garment can be measured in a few ways, but waste reduction is a huge part of it. When we can re-use any scraps from the manufacturing process, we save them from landfills.
I know that textile waste occupies 5 percent of all US landfill space and accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions. When textiles decompose in landfills, they emit harmful greenhouse gasses like methane. Additionally, chemicals used in the textile dyeing and finishing process contain carcinogens that can seep into the soil and get into nearby groundwater.
Rae: Can you talk a bit about the new gusset selection system and what it means for shopping with us in the future?
Dorine: The new system has three different options for what we call the “gusset,” of our bottoms. The gusset is the place in the front of a pair of underwear where you need to leave room for people with external genitalia.
We’ve created a system where you can select your gusset instead of selecting your gender. It moves us away from the binary of masculine/feminine styled underwear and more towards an inclusive and fluid shopping experience.
We want everything to be available for every body, and have tried to envision a way to show that outside of the binary categories of “masculine” and “feminine”. While we want to ensure that pieces that were designed for a specific function (like gaffs) are seen as Trans-integral, it means that any person could buy any piece in a form that will fit and flatter their body. We will be transitioning our entire website to this style in the coming months.
*Please note* Pieces designed to be compression gaffs are only available in two gusset widths to ensure functionality.
Rae: What are your future fashion dreams?
Dorine: Because I started to work for you when I was just a baby seamstress, I learned a lot and I have more skills now. Something that I’m looking forward to is applying all the techniques I know to make more complicated clothing pieces in my practice.
I also want to get more costumey and have more fun without feeling that I’m getting stuck because I don’t have the skills. I think it would be fun to make limited pieces and let the creativity run wild. I’d love to play with all the scrap materials that we have on hand and see how we can come up with unique pieces.
I would also like to bring alternative fabric techniques both to work and to my own practice. Some of us at Origami Customs have some knowledge of processes like printing and dyeing fabric, as well as illustration skills that we could use to make even more creative collections. I’d be excited to bring in even more creativity in the future.
Rae: Thank you Dorine for sharing this collection! You can check out her upcycled work here.
From now until June 10th, buy one piece from Ortie and get any other piece on the site 25% off!