Danielle Mcallister is part of a new breed of designers who are changing the way we shop and think about fashion. As founder of Rebellious Clove, one-of-a-kind, handmade, upcycled leather goods she has all the boxes checked to earn her fashion wings.
Learning to sew at a young age, she remembers always liking to keep her hands busy “I’ve always been one of those people who makes things,” she says. Although being eco is now on trend, inspired by her grandmother, who was clearly ahead of her time, as a child Danielle would buy clothing from Value Village and turn them into new custom creations. “I grew up always knowing it was a possibility,” she says.
Fast forward to 2010 as a student at the Seneca fashion program, although things might be different now, Danielle recalls that there was little to no emphasis placed on upcycling at the time — with a focus instead on using premium materials to produce clothing. Jarred by the lack of mention of upcycling in the curriculum Danielle recalls gripping the opportunity to share her views on fast fashion by giving a presentation for a class project on the dangers of the industry, primarily focused on the issues of low wages and environmental harm.
“When you see something that’s made in China or in Bangladesh there are no rules on being paid a livable wage and so it breaks my heart that someone else is suffering to make a shirt,” says Danielle.
In 2015, the documentary True Cost brought to life the environmental and very human impact of the fast fashion industry to which Danielle refers bringing to the forefront the extreme dangers and long term repercussions if drastic changes are not made.
It’s with this fervor to be a catalyst for change that she launched her line of leather goods and accessories. Using her natural inclination to see the potential in something that might otherwise be discarded she’s motivated to do her art in reusing materials that exist to create her pieces.
“Something might be really ugly right now but it could be made into something beautiful and still live on and not go into a landfill. I’ve always looked at things that way,” says Danielle.
The only hope is that the same way people have started demanding certain standards and quality in their food that this will also happen in fashion and that even when the trend wears off what will remain is a more well-informed and socially conscious and ethically responsible demographic who demand that real lasting changes are put into effect.
The response has been great so far for Rebellious Clove, and Danielle is optimistic that people will continue to see the value in her work. One of the beautiful things about buying something that’s been upcycled is the story that comes with it. With every piece that’s been re-used and re-purposed an upcycle designer can tell you able the process of re-envisioning a pink suede jacket that was found in an unlikely thrift store that has now become an enviable clutch – like Danielle’s pieces. (link here)
There are many designers, niche and household names who are taking a stand to produce ethical clothing in the hopes the snuff out fast fashion – much like the fight for solar power over oil. We’ve got a long way to go but designers like Danielle are giving us fabulous reasons to rebel against the tainted and toxic mass produced fashion choices that exist – I mean who doesn’t want a pink suede clutch with a story.