At this time, Gordon Holliday is responding to a customer request for a pair of custom shorts. But these aren’t just any shorts – they’re made from a collection of old T-shirts, which now have new life.
Holliday is a fashion designer. Before the pandemic hit, he had a job offer as a clothing designer for Adidas. When COVID erupted, Adidas froze hiring of the creatives.
“I didn’t let that stop me. I was sitting in my bedroom and I was like, ‘What can I do as a designer that could be the next revolutionary level. Something most brands could implement or support. “”
Holliday began to think about the environment and how we affect it with the clothes we wear.
“Fast fashion and how people can consume it so fast, so fast, so fast, but then throw it away and never use it again. Or it just ends up in the landfill,” he says.
These ideas developed into a new sustainability project called RENEW, REWORK, ROOLĒ – which stands for Rule Over Our Life Every Day. In July 2020, Holliday was invited to be Artist in Residence at Studio 229 in downtown Charlotte. The building was once the Mecklenburg Investment Company, a black-owned bank that provided loans to black entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
“We’re talking about the 1920s. It was a whole black community called Brooklyn, Charlotte. From that block to the convention center, which is right here, [all] the way to the government buildings, ”Holliday describes.
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– ROOLĒ shorts
Shorts made from T-shirts, one of designer Gordon Holliday’s signature fabrics. He works with other clothing brands to make projects for them.
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– Sewing machine
The embroidery machine types the ROOLĒ logo as young WUNC reporter H’aiasi Chinfloo captures the sounds of each stitch.
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– ROOLĒ Clothing
ROOLĒ clothing in the studio. Holliday fills his studio with artwork from local artists and fills the space with objects that inspire him.
Holliday continues this tradition as a young black entrepreneur with his fashion studio in the building. When you walk into his workshop, you see bins of recycled fabrics organized by color.
“The yellow is there, then I have the earth tones, it’s like my gray, my white, my purple. My blue is stacked right now, I have to clean that up,” he says.
You can touch all kinds of unusual fabrics in the studio. With all these different textures, you wonder: what was it before?
“I used upholstery – so materials that you see on your sofas, chairs, pillows and so on.”
To create designs, Holliday uses an embroidery machine, a skill he learned during his last job as an embroidery operator.
“I would be so fascinated with the machine and what it could do, I would sit and stare at it. Just watch it do whatever sketch I had at the time just came to life.”
Holliday has had his fair share of jobs from bus boy to bell boy. He says these skills have helped him grow as a brand and a business.
“It’s another way our generation looks at jobs. Yes, it doesn’t matter if you have to work for someone, but also, while you work for them, to learn skills. What can you learn from this job that you can take and do it for yourself? “
It takes vision to create your own brand, and Holliday has it. In May, he was selected for a design challenge sponsored by Waste Management and Slow Factory, and right now he’s working with fashion industry experts to develop solutions to incorporate sustainability into every step of the way. clothing production process. The design challenge won him exposure and an interesting article by Forbes magazine.
“Just imagine you wake up and see your picture on Forbes, you’re like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait! Not only just like the gratitude to see that there, but also just to see the fact that the sustainability is really so deep, you know. And we can really take all the things that we use and get rid of, and remake them in something else. “