Julia is an online personality based in Chicago, USA, who creates dresses out of 100 percent recycled or thrifted materials. Her dresses are based on drawings and designs her grandmother made in the 1940s while attending fashion school. Being a fashion designer was a dream Julia’s grandmother had to sadly give up on in order to care for her family, as during those years, women lacked the support to choose between homemaking and a career.

By creating these dresses, Julia is able to show the world just how far thrifted and recycled materials can go while keeping her grandmother's dreams alive. This makes her work aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Responsible Consumption and Production and Gender Equality.

Photograph of Julia and her grandmother. Image courtesy of @_boringbb_/Instagram.

Julia, who wishes to keep her last name private, is renowned on TikTok (900 thousand followers) and Instagram (500 thousand followers) for her ‘dress reveal’ videos where she shows the dresses she made (based on her grandmother’s designs) to her grandmother. In these videos, Julia shares her grandmother’s reaction to the dress and her process of making the dresses. Julia’s process often begins with taking inspiration from her grandmother’s designs, to then sourcing thrifted or repurposed materials and finally styling and wearing them.

Julia in a dress she tailored, inspired by designs by her grandmother. Image courtesy of @_boringbb_/Instagram.

Time and again, Julia tirelessly reminds her viewers that her dresses are made from thrifted or repurposed fabric sourced from clothes she already has at home. In fact, Julia has also found herself repurposing fabric from her old projects into two to three new projects

Julia’s grandmother’s original design. Image courtesy of @_boringbb_/Instagram.

The latest United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data found that the United States generates just over 17 million tons of textile waste per year. Of this, 19 percent is burned, 66 percent is landfilled, and only 15 percent is recycled. This is why initiatives such as Julia’s are important to raise awareness of the reality of today’s fabric waste that the fashion industry creates. It’s also important to note that on the global level, the fashion industry generates 92 million tons of waste per year.

Not only that, Julia’s dresses also show the progress society has made in terms of women’s rights. Julia has previously spoken about the importance of remembering that even people’s mothers and grandmothers are also women. They are women from older generations with their own hopes and dreams who, more often than not, have had society forcefully relegate their roles to homemaking.

Since the 1940s, the time around which Julia’s grandmother had to drop out of fashion school, women’s rights in the US have progressed to allow women to do everything from accessing birth control pills to having a place in offices. However, as the United Nations itself has outlined, there is still much to be done in order to achieve total gender equality. It is also worrying that the United States ranked 43rd out of 146 countries examined for gender equality by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Julia wearing a dress she tailored, inspired by her grandmother's designs. Image courtesy of @_boringbb_/Instagram.

Julia’s dedication to her grandmother’s dream is manifesting as a sustainable fashion initiative. This allows her to show the transformative potential of repurposed fabrics and pay homage to women across generations. Her work reminds women of all ages to continue to pursue their dreams while trying to build a sustainable future for everyone.

Julia wearing an Easter dress made from $1 thrifted fabric, inspired by dresses her grandmother wore in photographs. Image courtesy of @_boringbb_/Instagram.

Find out more about Julia’s dresses and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram @_boringbb_.

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