Sunday, November 22, 2009

At HIMANE, Umbrellas Equal Fashion

I want to begin by saying thanks to Artineh H. and Katy C., who took time from their busy schedules to drop off a total eight umbrellas and some unused clothes to the studio last week. Also, thanks to Jocelyn N.G., who collected fifteen umbrellas these past few weeks for me, and a general thank you to all of you who left them outside of my door. I also want to express my gratitude to Charles C., for donating beautiful shirts, pants and ties, Guy D., the freecycle gang, and a special thank you to Gail P. for all the umbrellas she dropped off or shipped since the beginning of the year.

Last but not least, I want to thank all of you for your support and kind words, which demonstrate how much you understand the importance of recycling, and in what I am doing.

This will be our last post for the week, due to the holiday and the move to my new studio. I wanted to share a few pictures from HIMANE's collection of bags and clothes, so those of you who are still wondering how it is possible to create upcycled clothes from umbrellas can see how I do it.

In the first picture, the model is wearing a seam curve dress, made entirely from umbrellas. It is fully lined, with an invisible back zipper.

In the second picture, the model is wearing our Ayssa dress, with the entire front piece and the back (not shown) made from umbrellas; the clutch bag she is holding (also shown alone, above), is also made from umbrellas. The rest of the dress is made from cotton tweed material, which I collected at Bradlee's, because they did not have any use for the small (one yard) piece of fabric.

I used two men's shirts to create this spectacular, gorgeous and one-of-a-kind piece(above). The side tie was made using the sleeves of both shirts. It is a classy top, very stylish, and easy to wear with almost anything.

Our signature tote bags, made from umbrellas, are fully lined with inside pockets. I either add some embroidery or stencil work in the front, just to give them each a different look.

Looking at this bag and the fabric, you will never guess it used to be an umbrella. It is fully lined, with front and back zipper pockets, edge stitching, and a zipper closure. The inside pockets are perfect to carry your make-up and cell phone. It will carry all a woman needs for the day, or it can be used as an overnight bag. The beauty of these bags are that they are very light, no matter how much you have in them, and we all know how much "stuffs" women usually carry around.

Our convertible duffel bag. Yes, the first picture shows the bag when it is folded and the second shows it opened. The bag is beautiful, light, and it is a great addition to any woman's collection. Use it for the gym, for travel, or any other purpose. Made from a recycled umbrella, it is fully lined with inside pockets. The flaps and the front and side/bottom pockets of the bag are made from recycled scrap leather. It is also very easy to clean.

As you know, each piece is unique. Why? Because with the exception of the black umbrellas, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to find two umbrellas with the same print, unless by pure coincidence or luck. This fact makes each of my pieces different.

If you would like to purchase any of these items, please send us an email or give us a call.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Reasons for Recycling

The following are some questions I receive from time to time.

~Why recycling?
~Why give old clothes a new look?
~Why not just purchase a new dress, blouse or new top?
~Why use discarded boxes of cereal or other products to create clothing tags and other items?

Below are some of my responses.

Even though I did not know the importance of what I was doing when I was 14, but this is how I taught myself how to sew by using my parents' old clothes and turn them into something completely new. By saying new I mean a new life, style, design, and more. It wasn't because we could not afford new clothing: I desperately wanted to learn how to sew, even though my Dad did not want to hear about it, using those old clothes were my only alternative. It was MY way to show how much I loved being creative and how good I was going to be at it.

When I decided to recycle discarded umbrellas four (4) years ago and collected remnants of materials and leather a while back, at that time I wanted just to collect them thinking maybe one day I will do something with them not knowing if I was doing the right thing or not. Now, that I know better and more aware of our environment, I can see the importance of recycling and upcycling.

Recycling and upcycling are much better and more sustainable ways to reuse what once was considered trash and by doing so, I am also saving a certain amount of energy by conserving it.

What people do not seem to understand is that every time we throw away our old clothes, a broken umbrella, cereal boxes, or other products in the garbage, we create more waste that pollutes our environment. To some of us who don't know, of course it is the right thing to do, trashing out the old or unused stuffs.

Recycling= no accumulation in our landfills, no toxicity, and discarded items are put to good use. I think we really need to make this a focus in our lives.

A few weeks ago, I reached out to a few umbrella factories. As we all know, most of them are now located in China, but I found one in the Williamsburg area in Brooklyn that makes beach and patio umbrellas. They are struggling, but still in business. The owner told me, they have many pieces of materials they cannot use, because they are too small and I am more than welcome to come for a visit and see if those "small" pieces were any good and if I will be able to use them. I was more than happy to do so. I went on a Friday with one of my interns and could not believe my eyes; the fabrics were in a variety of beautiful prints, colors, designs and of course water-repellent! So when the owner, a very nice gentleman, started to pull small rolls of materials I was in choked. I told him: " you said they were small pieces that you wont be able to use right, but those are rolls of materials". His answer was: "each of those rolls contain only 5 and maybe less than 10 yards which are way too small for the size of the patio or beach umbrella we do here". If I did not get in touch with them, those fabrics were ready to be trashed out and were going to waste away and be accumulated in our landfills. I felt so great rescuing these beautiful fabrics because it was the right thing to do.

I love to create things and very happy whenever I do so, with those fabrics I will be able to make beautiful handbags and totes that are strong and water-repellent. Every time you purchase one, it will demonstrate your support for the preservation of the environment and how much you care.

Included in this post is a picture of a beautiful top, which I upcycled using two men's shirts. Yes, I know it only shows the back; next time I will show the front and more.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2009

From HIMANE's Video Archives

We thought we would begin the week by looking back at two notable HIMANE appearances.

The first video below is a television interview Catherine Charlot did with MSNBC, which aired on October 11, 2009. As you will see from the clip, Catherine is frank about the struggles she faces as a small business owner in this unstable economic environment, but her enthusiasm, love, and talent for sustainable fashion and upcycling shine through.

The second video clip is actually a slide show Catherine created, using photographs from our successful "UpCycle Your Look" event at The Green Spa & Wellness Center on October 22, 2009. We will keep you posted about all of our future events, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deconstructing an Upcycled Shirt

These pictures feature Lize, who was modeling one of our signature upcycled shirts at a recent event hosted by The Green Spa & Wellness Center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Below, I (Catherine Charlot) explain how I used discarded and donated materials to create this particular piece.

This upcycled piece is made from a men's recycled, unworn shirt that was donated to me, and I chose to re-create it into a beautiful woman's top.

To accentuate the design, I used a broken umbrella piece to give it a very unique and sexy look. Yes, the magenta front piece was taken from a broken, discarded umbrella.

The side bow is made using the sleeves from the men's shirt, and the back yoke is from the inside of the shirt. If you look closely at the photographs, you will notice two different tones of fabrics, because I used the inside and outside of the shirt.

When you are creating, you just have to let your imagination guide you, let it flow and be creative. As for me, everything I am upcycling has to be extraordinary, breathtaking, and of course unique, whether it is custom-designed apparel or accessories.

Special thanks to Lize for being a part of our event, Natalie Marcoux for the photographs, and The Green Spa & Wellness Center for hosting the event.

Keep HIMANE in mind if you want your old clothes and/or umbrellas to find new life as upcycled, eco-friendly fashion!

Also remember: something is always better the second time around! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trunk Show Reminder & Where to Donate

Just a reminder: HIMANE's collection of upcycled bags and doggie clothes will be on display at Equinox Fitness Club (the @14 Wall Street location in Downtown Manhattan) on Tuesday, November 17, from 5-8:30 PM. Those who attend the trunk show next week will not be disappointed! Our eco-friendly bags and doggie clothes are always made from recycled umbrellas and other materials, and many can be easily zipped and folded for easy storage. Founder, president, and designer Catherine Charlot will be there to answer all of your questions about HIMANE, and will demonstrate how easy it is to use the upcycled pieces on-the-go. We hope to see you there!

If you live in or near New York City, and have old umbrellas that you want to get rid of, consider donating them to HIMANE! We have three convenient drop-off locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so please don't hesitate to stop by!

Drop-off locations:

Sustainable NYC (Avenue A in Manhattan)
Artez'n (Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn)
The Green Spa & Wellness Center (Bay Ridge, Brooklyn)

If you leave your name and contact information with your donations, we will contact you with more information about discounts and other information about HIMANE products.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

HIMANE News & Updates

Tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 11.10.09) CBS will tape a segment with Catherine Charlot at company headquarters in Brooklyn. We will post pictures and details about when the interview will air on television as soon as we receive confirmation.

In other news, HIMANE is getting ready to move to a new location in early December! Details about our brand new office will also be posted soon.

We're looking forward to the future, and hope you will be looking ahead with us!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Welcome to UpCycle Your Look!

Welcome to HIMANE, Inc.'s new blog site. We will be updating UpCycle Your Look with our company's latest news and upcoming events. You can also follow our news on our Twitter and FaceBook pages.

The latest news is that Equinox Fitness Wall Street in New York City will host our upcoming Trunk Show on Tuesday, November 17, 2009, from 5-8:30 PM. We will be featuring our latest bags and doggie clothes made from recycled umbrellas and other materials. If you are in the area and are interested in our eco-friendly fashions, please stop by!

For more information, please email us at, or call 646-225-6683.