Bare Thred offers sustainable, ethical clothes to urban population

New secondhand clothing shop opens in North Knox

“Clothing is a common ground for all people,” says Allie Eber, member of the Bare Thred community, which cares deeply about both clothing and people.

Bare Thred is a new, community-operated secondhand clothing store that invests heavily in urban Knoxville districts. Located at 928 Chickamauga Ave. in the heart of the Oakwood/Lincoln Park neighborhood, the operation comprises several North Knoxville community members who collaborate in an effort to provide affordable, sustainable clothing to people in the immediate area and beyond.

According to its website, www.barethred.com, “Bare Thred is a secondhand shop dedicated to turning people’s excess into outlets for creativity and style. We are not simply a retail store. We honor the original creator, as well as the customer and partner. We redesign pieces into value, speak truth into identity and bring into light the hidden injustices which face those we engage. Bare Thred is a space curated to facilitate beautiful culture, encourage community and impact the city through truth and artfulness.”

While many missions sort through donations and discard clothes that they don’t see as fit for their clients, Bare Thred repurposes clothes either by redesigning them or by repurposing the fabric for other uses. This works to eliminate waste that commonly results from other donation-based enterprises.

Bare Thred does not maintain a hierarchical work environment; instead, it functions as a community working together toward a common goal. The group’s convictions spurred them toward brainstorming an alternative that works for everyone.

Taylor May Carpenter, one of the community workers, says, “Before this became an idea, there was a growing awareness among us about the injustices in the clothing industry.

“It correlated with the idea that people can’t always afford these really expensive ethical or sustainable clothes, even if they are all for trying to do things sustainably. There is also a lot of clothing waste. What is a way in between that can provide a way for people to choose a sustainable option and also contribute to addressing the problem of clothing expense?”

When clothes are thrown away, the demand for new clothes that are produced with unethical materials and labor increases. When clothes are recycled and repurposed, however, big clothing corporations have less demand to produce large numbers of clothes unethically. Changing the industry is a lengthy process, but the people at Bare Thred believe they have the responsibility to start somewhere.

Working within an urban community, Bare Thred derives influence from the community surrounding it and pours its efforts back into it.

“We were primarily inspired style-wise by urban teenagers because we know a lot of teenagers that would remake their clothes. Instead of buying a new pair of jeans, they would alter the pair they had,” Eber says. “It was this really inspiring thing because it’s so easy, but [it’s] also an outlet for creativity and art that draws in a lot of teenagers and young people. We know a lot of high-school-aged urban kids, and we have opportunities for them to be a part of what we are doing. We want to pass skills on to younger generations and [to] provide an outlet for them to create.”

Beyond functioning as just a store, Bare Thred members care deeply about educating the local population about the clothing industry and providing ethical ways for people to find clothes that they like. Members often visit local schools where they teach students about the clothing industry and show them the positive change that can come from altering the current systems of production.

“We want people to be aware of the clothing industry,” Carpenter says. “We want to provide inexpensive, secondhand, repurposed clothes. If we don’t have the clothes that you need, we want to be able to direct you on how to find those clothes affordably and ethically.”

Follow Bare Thred on Instagram (@bare.thred) to keep updated on their store hours, as well as donation and volunteer needs.

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