Summer Ruddock-Ellis Shares Her Sustainable Wardrobe Journey

Photography by Julian Bori.

“Clothing has finally allowed me to navigate the world the way I choose.”

I first got a job at a sirens shop at the age of 15 and I was living in Brampton, Ont. Although I worked at the Square One Shopping Center in Mississauga, I rarely shopped there instead of taking my hard-earned money to a local thrill store.

My first experience was thrilling when I was a preteen; I went to Value Village after running out of sheer curiosity with my mother and after spending a hard time in large-scale fashion stores because I could not find pieces that fit properly or that reflect my personal style. That solo journey opened up my imagination and desire to experiment. I often took the same bus to visit three different shops in Value Village, The Salvation Army and Goodwill, sometimes on the same day. I could make any outfit I wanted, and most items cost $ 15.

Thrifting gave me access to pieces that I could not acquire in any other way. I got my first designer item second-hand before I was ever able to buy a high-end piece at retail price. I remember once getting a Ports 1961 Wool Dress at the Talisman location in Brampton and I was surprised because I knew the brand had a boutique in the iconic Yorkville neighborhood of Toronto and had seen its runway shows online. I was very concerned at that time to be able to find something of that quality and reverence. Clothing – an important medium for self-expression – was accessible at the thrift store, and the possibilities felt endless.

Summer Ruddock-Ellis Durable Wardrobe
Photography by Julian Bori.

When I moved to Ottawa for my undergraduate studies, I developed an even deeper interest in thrifting, fascinated by the various things that you can find in such stores, including home decor. I equipped my entire dorm with housewives previously owned, and it was another decisive moment as I realized the versatility of second-hand shopping for everyday life.

Fellow students often asked where I had gotten my clothes or if I was in a fashion program (even though Carton University does not have one). He would never have guessed that I am studying economics and finance.

Since so many people were curious, and in astonishment as to what I was wearing, I started selling and selling items for my classmates, which I was buying from thrift stores. I did my first pop-up from my dorm room, and returned after a third year transfer to York University in Bramton, I continued to host pop-ups in my backyard as people became more interested in my beauty and interest Used to have items that I found for them.

Summer Ruddock-Ellis Durable Wardrobe
Photography courtesy of Summer Ruddock-Ellis

In the suburbs, “curate” thrift stores did not exist, so hunting was difficult – but also rewarding. I search for anything I have seen that was similar to the styles that I saw in magazines and on websites like I loved finding pieces from through-back streetwear brands like FUBU, Baby Phat and Enyce – all the nostalgic labels I wanted to buy but couldn’t afford when I was younger.

Since I could not always find what I was looking for – either for my clients or for my own wardrobe – I changed the pieces by dyeing, patching and cutting them so that they would have a new look and a new look. Can life. Natural fibers such as wool, cotton, linen, and cashmere are the best items to pick up (and to change to use natural color) a pair of scissors. I love deceptive weaving, creating an unfinished hem on denim and cutting raw silk. I normally cut something, dye it and then put it through a wash or two as I like to give my clothes a live-in feel.

Summer Ruddock-Ellis Durable Wardrobe
Photography courtesy of Summer Ruddock-Ellis

My go-dye for coloring the pieces is from food scraps and other organic materials. I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years, and anything from my waste bin – beets and avocado skins, turmeric and sorrel will do. I sometimes pull things straight from my backyard, collecting dandelions, pomegranates or wild berries. It’s all about testing the pigment to see what works, and to see if the way I shuffle clothes is experimental. I take great inspiration from my Jamaican heritage and dance hall sensibilities; A lot of the clothes in that scene are DIY – the garments are modified to emulate someone seen on television, for example, but it was not accessible for them to buy.

This practice of modifying and modifying existing pieces is of interest that has strengthened in recent years as I have kept a tight eye on my own consumption habits and are believed to know how to improve them. But despite the negative implications of fashion consumption – from apparel-labor exploitation to landfill (and, increasingly, thrift stores), full of fast-fashion pieces – clothing finally allowed me to navigate the way I choose the world. Has given

I encourage others to wear new, uneducated and converted pieces through their partnership with the brand 4YE; I helped launch its Rework collection in 2019. I am also running a second hand retail business, named By Pseudonym, and through this platform, I can share ideas on how to extend the life cycle of clothing in artistic and engaging ways.

Right now, I am working with my friend, Sydney B. Wright of Ethereal, on an upcycling collaboration. He is more educated than me about the practice of clothing repurchases, and, together, we will color knitwear and update the silhouette of the pieces in Bye Poudum’s inventory. Our reference to these items comes in part from the Fall 1993 Comme des Garcons collection – one that weaves pieces together with knitted and lightweight fabrics.

Looking at my life through the lens of clothing, I see that I am able to use them to show the world who I am and what I believe. The name Bye’s pseudonym comes from the idea that through style, you can create a different version of yourself – maybe even the person you want to be.

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