The atrocity concurrent with fast fashion is planting seeds in the consumer ethos to branch out towards eco, sustainable, and ethical clothing. Textile recycling is the oldest form of recycling and yet has the least implemented recycling programs in current US municipalities. 11 million tons of textiles are thrown in actual trashes each year. Reuse clothing label Madam Chino shares a complex and original USA-Made Brand that is constructed completely of recycled t-shirt textiles, creative repurposing and skilled labor. Our hand-chosen materials are sourced in a USA textile sorting and recycling facility. We maintain little-to-no waste through inventive reuse in our products and patterns, offer a reclaim program for used Madam Chino garments, accept local donations of T-shirt fabrics, and provide new styles and colors seasonally.
Our production streamlines a method of creating quality and consistent products from post-consumer garments by taking into account any variability in the existing fibers, and unifying them through new design silhouettes with experienced craftsmanship. We love that our product reveals the evolution of it’s story. It doesn’t feel right to deny that process, in humans or objects. We think our products are a perfect blending of modern and post-modern aesthetics that recognize the history of an object, while at the same time beautifying, simplifying and coalescing it.
We want to be honest with you. It's not easy being green. Quality reuse products that look and feel good are our first way of keeping textiles out of the waste stream and in your hands longer. Please follow us in our strides towards a vision of conscientious manufacturing, and stay tuned for continual evidence of how we maintain our ethical commitment to reducing waste impacts and closing loops with thoughtful design and labor practice.
Vanessa Devaki Andrew is an artist, illustrator, clothing & textile designer and producer, community educator and reuse entrepreneur living and working in Milwaukee WI, USA. Milwaukee is also home to her USA-made sustainable reuse clothing brand Madam Chino which started in 2003, and strives to remove the vanity and social irresponsibility from fashion through creative reuse.
In February 2014, Vanessa published the first Madam Chino website which seeks to overcome a problem plaguing many reuse clothing designers: lack of consistent material to provide quality products in volume. By streamlining the product source to focus on T-shirts, and accounting for their inherent variability, Madam Chino has been able to commit to constructing quality garments in multiple sizes and colors from post-consumer fibers.
All products are soaked in an antibacterial mixture of lemon, baking soda, and vinegar to disinfect and deoderize. Finished garments are presented inside out with prior graphics appearing on the interior of the garment. Colors are variable, sometimes within a single garment, due to previous wear and fiber content. Where some seams and hems are reused, they may appear inverted with coverhem stitches in matching thread appearing on the exterior. Scraps are sorted by color, type, and size, and new designs are created to implement what scraps are most plentiful at the time.
"I love that my products reveal the evolution of their story. It doesn't feel right to deny that process, in humans or objects. Madam Chino products are a perfect blending of modern and post-modern aesthetics that recognize the history of an object, while at the same time beautifying, simplifying and coalescing it for longer life."
Vanessa Andrew has been teaching sewing, entrepreneurship and community arts to kids and adults in the Milwaukee area for 20 years through her own shop and these amazing local organizations and schools: UW Studio Arts and Craft Centre, Discovery World, Boys and Girls Clubs, Fasten Co-op Clothing Gallery, Cream City Conservation, Agape Community Center, Project Ujima, Milwaukee Rec Department, Milwaukee Public Schools, Arts at Large, Waukesha Community Art Project, Cloud 9 Workshop, and the Exposure to Creativity Program, completing hundreds of residencies across these organizations combined.
The Madam Chino studio houses over 15 table top sewing machines, 3 treadles, and 12 industrial sewing machines; 90% are re-homed pieces of Milwaukee's sewing history from the parents and grandparents of individuals, to local factories like Junior House, Canvas Backs, and Sunbias. The Madam Chino sewing school, shop and services was forced to move from it's native Brewer's Hill location during the economic stress of Covid, in the winter of 2020, due to the condo development of Milwaukee Buck Pat Connaughton, and has relocated into a permanent home in the fine community of West Allis at 6301 W. Lincoln Avenue.