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Rethreaded partners with Southwest Airlines to produce Project Runway-inspired leather accessories

January 18th, 2019 · Leave a Comment

Rethreaded is continuing its partnership with Southwest Airlines to produce a line of leather accessories inspired by the winning designs seen on the Unconventional Materials episode of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7.

Designers were tasked with creating a look for modern day air travel from provided materials, and crafting a leather accessory out of upcycled Southwest aircraft seat covers, in less than 24 hours. Episode winner Irina Shabayeva consulted the women of Rethreaded on the production of the new accessories, which are for sale at www.rethreaded.com/pages/rethreadedxsouthwest.

“We are so proud to be collaborating with Southwest Airlines to create opportunities for survivors of human trafficking to reclaim their lives,” said Rethreaded founder Kristin Keen. “This partnership has already allowed us to scale our operations and transform the lives of women in our community.”

In the episode, Southwest provided items commonly used in air travel, including coffee cups, peanut packets, seat belts, and aircraft seat leather. These items were specifically chosen to showcase how everyday items can be creatively repurposed into something new. Safety vests became a sporty jacket, ticket jackets became a geometric top, and in Shabayeva’s winning look, paper cups became a vibrant red, futuristic miniskirt set. All looks featured a leather accessory crafted from Southwest seat leather, with the top designs to be reproduced by Rethreaded for sale online. Typically, this would be impossible to do with the unconventional materials challenge, but Rethreaded’s past history of engagement with the airline made it a natural fit to take on the project. The result is a unique, one of a kind Project Runway All Stars inspired line.

Rethreaded first collaborated with Southwest in 2017 as part of the airline’s Repurpose with Purpose initiative, an effort to upcycle discarded material into useful products with the help of partner organizations. This initiative helps generate social and economic opportunities for the community partners it serves. Rethreaded, which provides survivors of human trafficking a second chance at life through long-term employment coupled with mental health services, transformed thousands of pounds of discarded leather into a line of unique jewelry and accessories. Southwest further offered its support through a grant that allowed the organization to purchase new sewing machines.

Rethreaded’s in-house team of artisans, salespeople, and managers — many of whom have found freedom from human trafficking with the nonprofit’s services — will expand the line to include a limited edition collection of products inspired by the unconventional materials episode. Shabayeva has visited Rethreaded headquarters in Jacksonville and helped direct the look of the final products.

“The collaboration not only repurposes discarded material otherwise destined for a landfill,” said Beata Gutman, founder of Grasshopper. “It also allows Rethreaded to expand their business and hire even more women in need of new skills and support systems.”

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