Lee Law is making the old new again with an artistic, sustainable clothing line called The Wrong Side-Out. The inspiration for the line, which is created using old T-shirts that are turned inside out, came to Law while he was walking through a grocery store after work one night.
“It was kind of a fluke, really,” he said. “I’m really cheap, so I just turn old T-shirts inside out to wear under my work shirt, and I always take my work shirt off when I leave. I was walking around the store, and random people would stop to tell me that my shirt was inside out or the wrong side out.”
Law studied art and graphic design at Jacksonville State University and had been searching for a new medium to share his work. With each person who stopped to tell him his shirt was inside out, Law realized people pay attention to anything out of the ordinary.
“As far as marketing goes, if you wear a shirt that is inside out anywhere everybody will tell you, because it’s apparently a fashion no-no,” he said.
With that in mind, Law began looking for ways to give old T-shirts new designs. His idea of creating a more sustainable fashion line just kept growing from there.
Instead of ordering new shirts, Law continued to purchase gently used shirts from thrift store bins.
When he discovered Solarfast, a line of dyes for sun-printing, Law knew he wanted to give it a try. Other environmentally friendly products he saw washed out or faded, but Law said with Solarfast, the only way to destroy the design is to bleach it.
“You place the dye on the fabric and you put a negative or a solid object on the shirt,” he said, describing the process. “Whatever doesn’t develop washes out. I really don’t know how it works. It’s kind of like magic.”
What makes Wrong Side-Out special, Law said, is that no shirt is the same. He looks for shirts that have a distressed, vintage feel, then gives each one a unique design.
“I just want to keep it as organic as possible and avoid getting into big production that used ammonia and other chemicals,” Law said. “I think a lot of companies get out of touch and get crazy with stuff and don’t see the impact they have on the environment.”
He has dreams of turning old shirts into dresses. If his line is successful, Law hopes to branch out into other sustainable fashion avenues like shoes and belts made from old tires.
“I’m thinking about making some sort of sustainable bag, too,” he said. “I mean, the whole principle is to keep it as sustainable as possible by using things you don’t throw away and you reuse instead.”
In order to start his business, Law has launched a campaign on Kickstarter.com, an entrepreneurial website that allows people to financially support projects they are interested in. Law will use the money he raises for inventory costs.
He hopes his line is successful, but doesn’t want to ever lose sight of its slogan: Reuse. Renew. Rewear.
“I didn’t just want to open up a business and make money,” he said. “I wanted to do something that would be sustainable and have some kind of positive impact. I want to give things another life, in a way.”
Staff Writer Laura Monroe: 256-235-3548. On Twitter @lmonroe_Star.