Trisha Cheeney, a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, create her renewable clothing line, made with recycled plastic bags.
There's no secret that the fashion manufacturing is one of the most polluting industries. It has serious work to do when it comes to sustainability and becoming a more eco-conscious-focused. There is an estimated 700 billion plastic bags produced each year, each of which takes from 15 to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
The issue of fast fashion is not all that different from the issue of the single use plastic shopping bag. Our culture has developed a very environmentally detrimental mindset around products that are cheap and designed for single-use or limited use.
That's why Trisha Cheeney decided to fight for sustainability and eco-friendly fashion. She created her renewable clothing line Pälemer to encourage others to rethink how the materials around us are used.
During an interview with “teenvogue” she said: “I didn’t tell many people what I was working on at first, only because I knew I was going to sound irrational if I said “I really want to make a jacket out of used grocery bags; it’s going to be really sleek and clean, and feel and look really great.” Those two ideas seem fundamentally opposed: quality, well-designed clothing, and used material. I wanted to challenge that belief, because I think it’s a harmful and limited way of thinking. I could picture the jacket in my head. I knew what it was going to look like and feel like. But I knew I had to make it first before anyone else could see that. To this day, some people are still a bit hesitant of the idea until they see and touch the products — try them on and see how nice they feel. Then they’re convinced. I love watching that shift in conception as people realize the beauty and potential in something they are quick to ignore and throw away. I think it’s a step in the right direction toward a sustainable way of thinking.”
Trisha designed a windbreaker jacket and a winter jacket. The first one contains about 90 bags and the other about 160 bags. The recovered material is sanitized and processed before being sewn into the garment. Though it is tedious, it’s incredibly worthwhile, as the entire process of producing hers product has practically no carbon footprint.
The girl began to think of Pälemer as a business when she participated in an entrepreneurial program at her college. Thanks the support of a mentor, she was introduced to several industry leaders in Baltimore, and received guidance and support from individuals at MICA and in the Baltimore community. Developing a business plan and exploring various avenues for execution allowed her to conceive her idea as a viable business.
Where did the name Pälemer come from?
To this question she answered: “I am actually terrible at coming up with names for these sorts of things, so a fellow MICA student and graphic designer, Conner Nielander, who also designed the logotype, dreamed up the name. It came from the phonetic spelling of the word “polymer.”
She plans to launch an online store in the near future. Right now, she is taking custom orders for jackets, book bags, and other products that she is in the process of developing.
“I love watching that shift in conception as people realize the beauty and potential in something they are quick to ignore and throw away. I think it’s a step in the right direction toward a sustainable way of thinking.” - Trisha Cheeney