How Nudnik turns discarded clothing into cool, cheerful kidswear

How Nudnik turns discarded clothing into cool, cheerful kidswear

When Lindsay and Alexandra Lorusso first learned about the environmental impacts of textile waste, they wondered if there was some way they could leverage their experience in waste management—their father, Carl Lorusso, co-founded Wasteco in 1978—to do something about it. “My sister and I have always wanted to do something creative together,” Lindsay Lorusso says. They hit on the idea of starting a clothing line that turned discarded fabric into hip kidswear. Lindsay’s son, Hunter, was about three months old when they conceived of the idea; he’s now four, and Nudnik has been in operation since April of this year.

With Nudnik, the Lorussos have used connections they already had thanks to Wasteco to source fabric scraps and transform them into chic, cheerful basics for kids. And the brand already has some fans in high places: Sophie Grégoire Trudeau sent the Lorussos a letter expressing “respect and admiration” for their work—and thanks for a pair of pajamas they’d sent the Trudeaus’ youngest, Hadrien.

We asked Lindsay—who spoke yesterday at the WEAR 2016 sustainable fashion conference—to explain, step by step, now Nudnik turns old sweaters into brand new items.

First, the Lorusso sisters source their textiles—usually gently-used adult t-shirts and sweaters—from waste-management and distribution centres around the city. These centres sort donated clothing, and either redirect it to resellers like Goodwill, send it to developing countries through charity organizations, or scrap  it. “Usually, these places are an end point,” Lindsay says. “A lot of it ends up in landfill.” Lindsay and Alexandra have let these centres know what they’re looking for, so suitable garments are set aside for them to purchase in bulk.Lindsay and Alexandra do quality control, sorting through the textiles to ensure every piece is suitable for use. They’ll pre-wash all the fabric, then hand it off to their manufacturers:

Nudnik’s clothing is put together at Peace and Cotton, a small manufacturing studio and printing company at Dufferin and Dupont. There, the upcycled garments are deconstructed:

…and fabric is cut by hand by skilled seamstresses into one of just three sizes:

Nudnik’s seams are left raw, so pant legs and sleeves can be bunched up and gradually un-rolled. The pieces can grow with children, Jessica explains, rather than needing to be replaced as soon as they’re too small:

Photo courtesy of Nudnik Photo courtesy of Nudnik
 

After the fabric is cut, it’s screen-printed (also by hand). Nudnik’s fall/winter line of clothing features designs by Toronto studio Wondermatter; the Lorussos are hoping to collaborate with a different local artist every season on upcoming clothing lines “We might also do a collection of solid colours,” she says. “The possibilities are endless”:

Photo courtesy of Nudnik Photo courtesy of Nudnik
 
Photo courtesy of Nudnik Photo courtesy of Nudnik
 

Once the designs have set, the fabric is sewn by hand into one-of-a-kind garments:

Photo courtesy of Nudnik Photo courtesy of Nudnik
 

Right now, Nudnik sells just five pieces—a long- and short-sleeved top, trousers, a sweatshirt and sweatpants—which are made in small batches and stored in the Lorussos’ office:

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Nudnik has been a going concern for less than a year, so the sister’s are mainly focused on figuring out what works while, as Lindsay says, “disrupting every step in the manufacturing process.” Next up: they’ll be meeting with a local paper-maker who’s figured out a way to make paper out of—you guessed it—fabric scraps.