Interview: Austyne Chetwood
Production Assitant: Nemo Laktari
Producer/Photographer: Nate Bishara
Models: Evan Sutton, Keenan Barrett, Siobhan Linnane, Zak Fountain-Metz
In a perfectly lit room engulfed by the sun sits Taylor as she stares at papers and papers of clothing concepts. Next to her is her loving partner Nash steadily threading the needle to their sewing machine, all the while their dog, DD, watches wistfully for attention. Together the self-made founders formed Turning Tides, originally called Respect the Paw. First, starting with animal rights, but eventually transitioning to sustainable high fashion.
"We want to have a company that's not just about the fashion. We are about so much more than that," Taylor said. "With Turning Tides, we want to be that resource that people can trust." Being ethical in the fashion industry is a controversial subject considering it is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Not to mention that industry workers creating pieces are not always paid fair or employed in good conditions. Nash expresses that morality should be at the forefront of fashion brands. Being moral makes the work worth it.
"We didn't start as a sustainable brand, but as we learned that most brands are not sustainable, and a lot of them will say that they are, and we just had a huge issue with that. We just wanted to be one of the brands that weren't lying. We’re not just saying it, we are it, our brand is the perfect embodiment of who we are, and that is ethical." Nash Said. "To not be sustainable is not to be ethical. So the extra work is all worth it, and you will see the extra work reflected in our price."
One of the most significant unethical practices Turning Tides is avoiding is greenwashing or falsely advertising company products as environmentally friendly. Even down to the bare necessities, Turning Tides keep themselves responsible for everything.
"It's not easy being eco-friendly, especially whenever you get down to things like buttons. Buttons are like such a huge thing that is not made sustainably or in the united states, so what we try to do is get them second hand sometimes," Taylor said. After spending the afternoon with this pair of business owners it’s becoming overwhelmingly apparent that being a sustainable fashion brand comes with more hoops to jump through to remain truly sustainable, but to them, it's worth it because they love and believe in what they are doing.
While COVID-19 halted a lot of business, it didn’t stop Turning tides from opening in March. “It's all super restricted. Just going out, in general, is not as easy, and it makes shopping hard. It hasn't been easy at all,” Taylor says about operating a new business during the pandemic. “But thankfully, the community in Dallas, the weirdos in Dallas, have been super supportive of the brand.”
That was their main reason for moving to Dallas, doing pop-up shops, and getting support from people who believe in what they’re doing. Nash and Taylor’s reveal centers around the use of leftover scraps for pieces ranging from clothes to dog beds in their latest Spring/Summer collection.
“I like to call it the leftovers collection because I have only used things that are leftover from our previous collection,” Taylor said. “My goal this year was not to buy new fabrics but work with what’s in our room already.” And as a caveat, Nash mentions, “We never buy new fabrics. We buy them used, but they are new to us.”
While standing up with purpose is how Nash and Taylor represent their brand, they also reach out with open arms to make room for a new community.
“Social media is a big part of that community, especially during COVID-19 because we couldn't meet up in person, so a lot of our friends [and followers] kept up with us through Instagram and TikTok. It’s been grounding to be able to have that resource because otherwise, we would just be laying around not talking to anybody.” Nash said. And when wanting to be a vital part of the community, Nash wants other companies to follow in their lead. “Respond to people. It’s a real person if they are commenting either they love your stuff or are looking for connection somehow, and I love being able to give someone that feeling of connection. That feeling of somebody else knowing that they exist.”
Fashion can be gender-affirming for a lot of the queer community. Nash and Taylor believe it’s essential to experiment and be with yourself.
“Just being in a space where you’re comfortable to be yourself is important for that, if you are not in a space where you can be comfortable, hold true to yourself, stick it out for as long as you can and when you’re ready to leave, do not hesitate to go for it,” Nash opened up about self-discovery.
From eco-friendly one-of-a-kind clothes to educating and promoting resources for marginalized communities, the doors at Turning Tides are always open and you will be welcomed into their movement.
Support Local Artists. Support Sustainability in Fashion. Support Queer Business.
Shop Turning Tides HERE
Shop Turning Tides Pride HERE
Check out their resource page HERE