The THREAD independent design show last weekend was indeed the explosion of creativity that it promised to be. Fashion-forward and eco-friendly, many of these local designs were the most innovative I had ever seen. From jackets made from recycled water bottles to wallets made from melted caution tape, nothing failed to amaze.

Better yet, with each product came an intriguing story from each designer. THREAD not only gives shoppers a chance to buy locally, but a chance to interact directly with the designers and find out their behind the scene stories – something you can’t get at a shopping mall.

Daughter Earth: Ever since her trip to Borneo to volunteer with orphaned orangutans, Katy Tanis has been inspired to design products that spread awareness about endangered species. She said she first teamed up with small non-profit conservation organizations. “Many organizations don’t have the money to make products, so I thought it was a good way to educate people and raise money for them.” Her products range from shirts to bags to books and posters that are all animal themed and have educational tags. To compliment her habitat conservation efforts, Tanis makes her products with sustainable materials such as organic cotton and bamboo and uses water-based printing.

Miles to Go: This one-man company founded by Greg Kerr features shirt designs based on literary works. “All the designs are either inspired by a poem or a book,” Kerr said. “The company name is actually based off of a Robert Frost poem.” He mainly focuses on imagery from classic literature such as Moby Dick, Invisible Man, 1984, and Fahrenheit 451. Currently, he’s working on a Kurt Vonnegut design, one of his favorite authors.

Scratch and Flip: This cleverly and appropriately titled company makes products out of old record covers and books. Designers Tyler Bender and Ryan had recently decided to collaborate. “We’re two stores together since we make similar things, all recycled and handmade,” Ryan said as he held up some cuffs, which he explained was made from encyclopedia spines and melted caution tape he found in Tokyo. Some of their other products include wallets made from milk cartons and to-go boxes from laminated record covers.

Those were just a few out of the hundred designers present. See the full list from the show here.

Founder Lara Matthews said that THREAD has big plans for the future including expanding tour locations and even the possibility of an online store. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next THREAD show near you.

Video: Angela May Chen, all still photos Anna Vignet

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