Adiff Designs for Grecian Refugees

LEAFY MATTERS: Giving new meaning to sustainability takes some work, but “The Open Source Fashion Cookbook” does just that. And a tie-in with Nike’s New York City flagship is helping to put its purpose into practice.

Angela Luna, founder and chief executive officer of Adiff, a Brooklyn-based company that empowers refugees and creates upcycled apparel and accessories, cooked up the book with her business partner Loulwa Al Saad. The label’s solution-driven designs include a jacket that converts into a tent. One thousand tent jackets have been donated to the homeless and refugees globally.

The cookbook’s premise is to democratize sustainable and ethical fashion, especially for communities that can’t traditionally afford to shop from responsible brands. The idea is to give people the tools to participate in responsible consumption.

The “recipes” include step-by-step illustrations from six contemporary fashion brands. In addition to Adiff, the other labels are Assembly New York, BrownMill, Chromat, Raeburn and Zero Waste Wardrobe. At-home designers won’t need to purchase special items since they can make the clothing from items that are already available in their homes. Beginners will find no-sew basics and more practiced sewers will have access to more advanced designs.

After a brand director at Nike’s flagship bought the book, they reached out to Luna to do something similar.

The cookbook is an instructional handbook that also has essays about sustainable fashion and ways that consumers and the fashion industry can pitch in. The $60 book ships next week. Readers can find transparency pricing for the title in the book. Amazon receives $24 in royalties and Adiff gets $36 in commission of which there is a $16 gross profit including a $10 net profit that covers employee salaries, development costs and shoot costs.

Luna said, “We know that not everyone is able to afford it. That’s why we are rolling out on Instagram and on TikTok the videos on how you can make the pieces without necessarily buying the book or if you want to try it out. This is where we are trying to create partnerships with different organizations to see how we can get the book in as many hands as possible and figure out what other external programs that we can do with it, too.”

Through a six-week alliance with Nike’s flagship, the cookbook is being brought to life, so to speak, by repurposing some of the brand’s dead stock and waste materials into new items. The program runs through mid-June and features an installation. A step-by-step tutorial, sewing tools and scrap material are being offered to every shopper who buys something from Nike’s recycled sneaker collection to encourage them to follow the instructions to create a custom mask in their homes. This is an example of how the principles of the book are being applied to ongoing collaborations, Luna said.

The book’s sustainability principles are being put to use with help from Nike.

The book’s sustainability principles are being put to use with help from Nike.  Photo Courtesy of Angela Luna

“We’re trying to get other brands to come on board with it so they can transform what they have into new things that would allow the customer to engage in things in a different way,” Luna said.

All patterns are available on the Adiff site and can be downloaded as a PDF and printed. There are also videos on social media to walk through the process.

Having done an in-store event at The Canvas in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood, Luna is hoping to have more opportunities like that as more businesses are reopening.

Aware of the amount of waste that is scalable to upcycle through partnerships with brands, Luna sees collaborations becoming increasingly important for Adiff. “We’re transitioning to doing mostly collaborations and partnerships in the sustainability space with other brands and also the stores. Nike was a great opportunity because we could tie in the mission of the book and also do something with upcycling that was dead stock-related,” she said. “That’s definitely where we plan to go.”

Another upcycling project is planned with another yet-to-be-disclosed large brand at the end of the summer. That will be an exclusive collection and a longer-term partnership.