It takes almost three thousand liters of water to make a single cotton T-shirt. And the waste doesn’t stop there, says Overland Park fashion designer Tiffany Woodruff. Textiles are right behind food, plastic and paper waste when it comes to space occupied in American landfills.
Woodruff is the woman behind Thriftedtiff, a clothing brand centered around streetwear designs and sustainability. She repurposes vintage and used textiles to keep them out of landfills and in contemporary fashion. And if the argument for sustainability isn’t enough to catch your attention, vintage and antique clothes are often of much higher quality than today’s “fast fashion” garments that aren’t made to last but rather to be replaced with the next new trend.
Woodruff’s conscientious label includes upcycled graphic tees, sweatpants and hoodies, which often incorporate elements of tie-dye, bandana patchwork and embroidery in an Old English font—they’re cool, one-of-a-kind pieces. T-shirts start at about $40, hoodies at $75.
“I didn’t really have a business plan,” Woodruff says. “Thriftedtiff started as a passion project. Thrifting has always been a passion of mine, even from a young age. It’s what I had access to and what I had to work with. I didn’t get to go to Hollister or Abercrombie and Fitch like everybody else did in high school. We were going to Goodwill, Salvation Army and estate sales.
“There’s this cyclical consumerism that society is really battling,” Woodruff says. “Plus, fast fashion labels wear down quickly and don’t hold value.”
Woodruff doesn’t simply tie-dye sweatshirts she finds at Goodwill, though there’s nothing wrong with doing that on your own on a Sunday afternoon. Rather, she sources materials and textiles from several places, like estate sales and warehouses, Red Racks and the back bins at Goodwill. Woodruff also cleans and restores certain pieces and repurposes garments from other objects. When we met for an interview, she was wearing an oversized soft pink and white checkered sweater with fringe down the sleeves, a piece she created from a warm blanket from the ’80s as an homage to her personal style. “I love to be cozy and I love to mix traditionally feminine and masculine styles,” Woodruff says. I like to wear the baggy sweatpants—throw some patchwork on there—and a big T-shirt and a hat.”
Along with blankets, Woodruff creates pieces from curtains, comforters and any other materials she can get her hands on.
Recently, Woodruff has been commissioned to design and style music videos for the local independent music label Strange Music. Keep an eye out for “Frenemies” by Maez301 and “Still Right Here” by Tech N9ne, which will drop soon. She’s also planning to have her first fashion show in June at the T-Mobile Center’s College Basketball Experience where she will be debuting streetwear garments from her label to the public for the first time.
“The goal is to create social impact,” Woodruff says. “I think streetwear brands and fashion brands in general really lack that impact that actually holds value. You know, you take these old Metallica T-shirts, for instance, and you make them modern—there’s a cool story in that.”