Business Buzz: Slow Style

Lisa Van LooFebruary 20, 2020
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Scottsdale’s Healing Seams leads a local movement to reduce the environmental impacts of fast fashion.

It isn’t unusual for friends of Madeline Dolgin to send her boxes of jeans they’re purging from closets in Canada, New York and the Phoenix area. They’re ripped in inopportune places, or they’ve worn out their welcome. Scottsdale-based Dolgin doesn’t judge. Denim is her favorite medium for the upcycled clothing line she named Healing Seams, which she runs from home after her full-time job at Arizona State University. “Everyone owns a pair of jeans, so it’s something that is in everyone’s closet.”

Dolgin’s line, which she launched in June 2019 after consulting with the Tempe fashion incubator FABRIC, is anchored by creativity and a pretty hearty disgust for thoughtless waste. “I love the fact that I can repurpose something that would have ended up in our landfill,” Dolgin says. She transforms jeans into vests, jackets and skirts.

She’s not alone with her sartorial sustainability sentiments. FABRIC, a one-stop shop for manufacturing, design and marketing for fashion startups, features sustainable and upcycled pieces at AZ Eco Fashion Week during Earth Month in April. Local brand reFABRICate consists of pieces by local designers using scraps that would otherwise be thrown away. And when it comes to reusing clothing, the Valley abounds with thrift and consignment shops like The Bee’s Knees, Buffalo Exchange, Maggie’s Thrift and Retro Ranch.

Healing Seams, though, is more to Dolgin than a line of clothing. It’s the manifestation of an awakening she experienced while studying the fashion industry at New York University. While feeding her hopes of joining the fashion industry as a marketer, she learned of the environmental impacts that come with garment production. It didn’t sit well with her. “This fashion industry that I thought was so beautiful and artistic and aspirational had this kind of dark side to it,” Dolgin says.

She switched gears and began creating pieces with upcycled materials – namely denim – and discovered a thriving sustainable fashion industry upon returning to Arizona. Now she hopes to give back by using her self-described “intuitive” sewing skills to teach others how to mend their fractured garments.

“It’s been a great way to make small change,” Dolgin says of Healing Seams. “But, long-term goals, I want to work for a bigger brand and determine more ethical ways to manufacture.”

Photos by Brielle Grae; Angelina Aragon
Photos by Brielle Grae; Angelina Aragon