EUGENE, Ore. — St. Vincent de Paul is known for making one person’s trash, another person’s treasure but now they’re doing that with a twist.
Mitra Chester isn’t your typical fashion designer.
“These were made from damaged belts, leather belts. these are old vinyl LP’s. These were pants that maybe had some damage or were styles that weren’t selling very well,” said Chester, also a St. Vincent de Paul employee.
For the last month, she’s been working on a new line for St. Vincent de Paul called Upsmart.
“We take things that are already existing and transform them in such a way that creates them into new fashion products,” said Chester.
She says those items are generally donated items that are damaged. As an artist and advocate for recycling, she sees this as a perfect chance to combine both passions.
“I’m starting with the resources and finding really cool project ideas and efficient ways of producing them and I love that kind of engineering challenge,” said Chester.
Along with the belts, old vinyl records, and denim that have been up-cycled, neck ties are being remade into cell phone pouches which have become a hit in the store.
Not only are the products recycled materials but also the packaging, made from old cereal boxes and shoe laces.
“I think it’s really a lot better to start thinking of ways to reuse what we’ve already made and what we already have,” she says.
Chester likes to keep the Upsmart line affordable and trendy so nothing runs over $10. Although the line is only available at the downtown Eugene St. Vinnie’s, she hopes to see it spread.
“What I’d really like to see is for these to explode and for them to actually remain up-cycled products so that we are making a heavy impact on the reduction of waste,” said Chester.