CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gordon Holliday is a clothing designer who specializes in quilting, sewing and sustainability. 


What You Need To Know

Studies show the fashion industry is doing detrimental harm to the environment from water usage to dumping tons of plastic into the ocean

A Charlotte based designer is trying to paint the fashion industry green by creating clothing made from upcycled materials

Gordon Holliday said he knows he can't change the world in his lifetime, but he hopes to get others to follow his steps


"It could go anywhere from me finding a pair of pants, a thermos, a random piece of material," Holliday said. "And then I’ll collage them together, and in a way create something like this."

This month, Holliday was selected as one of nine creators for a Waste Management and Slow Factory design challenge, a contest focused on "waste-led design." 

Holliday's project included kimonos, which were inspired by the first African samurai, and he used upcycled materials to do it. 

"This is all centered around refreshing materials, refreshing garments, reworking them then putting them back out there. Using waste as a resource," Holliday said. 

According to studies by the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry’s impact on the environment is detrimental and rapidly increasing.

Their studies show "every year a half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic," and "around 20% of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment." 

This is why Holliday said the industry needs to change to more sustainable practices.

"Find different ways you can reuse materials you already have or find ways to be more ethical to the environment," Holliday said.  

Holliday said his inspiration for quilting comes from his strong family history in sewing. 

"My grandmom was an industrial seamstress for NASA, so her and her team would make the parachutes from some of the satellites and space crafts," he said.

He said whether sewing or sustainability is a part of your family’s past, anyone can be a part of the future of environmentalism. 

"My goal, even as a designer, I don't think I’ll be able to breakdown the systems that have been built for years, but I think I could be the genesis to the generations that does do that," he said.  

Holliday's company is called "Roolé," which is a mantra he came up with meaning "rule over our lives." The goal is to empower people to lead their own paths. 

The challenge will continue for seven months. He will then present at a waste management forum in 2022.