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High fashion meets street couture, 100% recycled

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Future Past, Fashion Forward

Magpies And Peacocks, High Fashion Meets Street Couture In A Bid To Save The Planet

When our closets are stuffed full and we still “have nothing to wear” it’s a big problem, especially when they are bursting at the seams!  For ex-interior designer Sarah-Jayne Smith this was an ongoing conundrum. Originally from England, she was astounded by the sizes of our closets here in the US, but even more astonished that they were chock full of items which failed to make us happy. 

Sadly, many of the contents of such closets are a major contributor to our fast fashion problem, their manufacture, delivery, and the use of non-biodegradable fabrics containing plastics, toxic chemicals and dyes are polluting and damaging our world at a vast rate of knots.

Fast fashion fills our closets with clothing we will only wear a few times, the industry manufactures an abundance of poor-quality garments, making them essentially disposable. Mass produced by underpaid workers, and shipped thousands of miles, with the waste product then being shipped back, it’s wreaking havoc on our world. As individuals, we currently consume over 400% of what we used to.

Founding Magpies and Peacocks 12 years ago was a step towards promoting awareness of conscious consumption for Sarah- Jayne, and this nonprofit organization has grown extensively, now preparing to relocate to a new, chic, century old warehouse space complete with a store front, coffee shop, in-house design and maker premises and an event space, all with a cool eclectic vibe.

I spoke to Ahshia Berry, VP/Director of Communications, to gain some insight into their practice of sustainable fashion and what we can do as responsible global citizens.

To date, Magpies and Peacocks have diverted 195 tons of fabric from landfill, using garments and fabrics from personal and commercial donations such as bolt ends from the interior design and furnishing industries, bags of unwanted closet clear outs which include vintage clothing, broken jewelry and other unwanted items. These discards are made into functional, wearable items for their exquisite fashion lines, home décor and pet products. “The reworking of vintage items keeps the story of fashion alive” Ahshia states, “vintage clothes were better made with higher quality fabrics, so still have a lot of living to do.”

The most unusual donation to date has been a recent gift of a 747 aircraft from Southwest Airlines! The leather from the seats will be utilized for their “Take Flight” design line to launch at the Magpies and Peacocks Annual Fundraising event. “After Dark 2023: Neuvelle Edition”: An Inspiring Evening of Sustainability in Fashion, Music, Food & Drink, to be held at their new premises on November 11th, 2023. Attendees can purchase unique one off and small batch garments and accessories hot off the runway. Magpies and Peacocks regularly collaborate with artists and designers in creating their unparalleled designs and have previously participated in the London Fashion Week for three consecutive years.

Their most recent in-house collection, “Avant Apocalypse” for Spring/Summer 2023, is a 100% upcycled range representing the ethics of Magpies and Peacocks. Key elements in this collection include asymmetric hemlines, frayed edges, abstract foil embellished denim and fun oversized clutch purses. All currently available online and at their existing location at 908 Live Oak, Houston.

A strong community involvement brings people of all walks of life together. Sewing instructor, R’Bonney Gabriel, who is also the reigning Miss Universe, teaches groups of people to sew, this aids the fashion problem from a different perspective, if we can make do and mend our existing clothing, there will ultimately be less waste. Magpies and Peacocks regular staff receive a living wage for their work, in comparison to the low wages and bad conditions the industry is renowned for. A percentage of donated items are used to supply materials to local schools, colleges and extracurricular programs, the rest are reworked into the collections available in the store.

Supporters and partners include Gucci Changemakers, Patagonia, NRG, The City of Houston, West Elm “made by women” and, as well as carrying out sewing alterations for Banana Republic and the mendit app. With storefront locations in London and Los Angeles, and more locally, pop up events at Roundtop, the River Oaks district and most recently at The Museum of Fine Arts where they collaborated with Houston’s, Kimono Zulu, showcasing a collection of reimagined vintage kimonos. Magpies and Peacocks regularly collaborate with nonprofit pet charity “Houston Pet Set”, as well as other nonprofit organizations in the area.

Current opening hours are Tuesday thru Thursday, 11am – 6 pm, and Saturday 11 – 4, these times will adjust with their relocation this coming fall.  Make sure you visit their website with online store, featuring a collection of available handmade apparel and goods, as well as information about how you can donate, help, and become involved.

  • The early stages of a unique design
  • The Denali Asymmetrical dress
  • A fun oversized clutch purse
  • Vegan leather wrap skirt and vest ensemble
  • All items are created in-house
  • High fashion meets street couture, 100% recycled
  • Fashion is a force for good
  • The up cycled oversized clutch
  • All designs are up cycled in the USA
  • up cycled, reworked and redesigned for a whole new vibe
  • Relaxed fit Sierra Linen tunic with drop sleeves
  • Designers and makers creating small batch designs

Magpies and Peacocks are the nation's only 501(c) 3 nonprofit design house dedicated to the reuse of clothing, surplus textiles and accessories averted from landfill. 

Their mission focuses on four purposes; collaborate, create, educate and invest. 

Through their work with local businesses, artists, designers and educators they are able to produce high quality, up-cycled, socially responsible products and solutions. At the same time supporting community workforce development by providing training, and sustainability mentorship.

This builds a sustainable future for local makers and designers as well as promoting awareness, ethics and circular innovation, as well as raising essential funding for creative community development.

These contrasting birds represent the collection of discarded items and their transformation into something beautiful.

The magpie is famed for collecting shiny objects. The black and white colors of the magpie  used in the branding, represent “equal opportunity” and thriftiness.

The peacock has a glamorous, showstopping, personality. Representing the flamboyant world of catwalk high couture, it mirrors the fashionably fabulous in all of us.

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