Sean Young, the American actress who played the love interest of Harrison Ford (Blade Runner) and Kevin Costner (No Way Out) wasn’t much of a skater on this year’s debut season of “Skating with the Stars.” But she introduced TV viewers to an important new fashion trend: repurposing old clothes.
The whimsical, colorful cloche hats and fingerless gloves that Young wore as she tripped around on the ice with Russian skater Denis Petukhov are one-of-a-kind art pieces made out of those ugly old Christmas sweaters we so love to poke fun of.
Baabaazuzu, a wildly creative design shop in Lake Leelanau, Michigan, handcrafts vests, sweaters, scarfs, gloves and purses out of recycled wool sweaters and blankets. Every two weeks, a 1500-pound bale of discarded wool garments arrives and owner Sue Burns and her team wash the old sweaters, shrink them down into felt and stitch them into gorgeous, one-of-a-kind warm woolies.
It all started when Burns’ husband offered to do the wash. Not savvy in the details of laundry, he threw Sue’s favorite wool sweaters in with the underwear shrinking them to peewee size. Unable to part with her long-time favs, she made lemonade out of lemons by cutting them up and stitching them into matching hats and jackets for her then young kids. Other mothers at their grade school went ga-ga over the hats and jackets and before she knew it, her Sears-Kenmore sewing machine couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Today, 18 years later, baabaazuzu employs 24 artisans who turn old woolens into Sue’s funky, creative hats, mittens and bags. Sold at more than 900 retailers around the world, each baabaazuzu piece is like no other. Even a pair of mittens has two unique hands.
“We never know what fabrics, garments, colors and textures will show up,” says Burns, who runs the company with husband Kevin.
Baabaazuzu’s growing fan base looks mighty snazzy in their custom wool apparel, but even more satisfying is knowing they kept one more thing out of the landfill.
Just don’t expect the hats and glove to help you skate better.
Click here for more on baabaazuzu, 231.256.7176, 1006 S. Sawmill Road, Lake Leelanau, Michigan.