Chances are, before you see the beautifully cut dresses, the vibrant GMO-free cotton tees, or pencil skirts in every shade, you’ll notice the red-and-white message that hovers above the shop floor of the new Fed By Threads flagship store on Congress.
It reads: “Each garment feeds 12 emergency meals.”
Right below, you’ve probably just spotted the long, white Ishwari dress and thought about how great it will look at your next dinner party. You’ll also know that when you walk out of the store with dress in hand, Fed By Threads will have donated $1 to both the Community Food Bank and Feeding America.
With each dollar, the Community Food Bank can provide four meals and Feeding America can provide eight. One organic maxi-dress becomes 12 meals.
Fed By Threads, co-founded by Alok Appadurai and partner Jade Beall, began as a small T-shirt business operating out of The Movement Shala, their dance and yoga studio located at Third Avenue and Ninth Street.
Two years later, Fed By Threads now occupies a newer, more visible space on Congress Street. Fed By Threads also shares the block with new pizza joint Fired!, Gio Taco, HiFi Kitchen and Cocktails, and Planet Smoothie.
In addition to their commitment to hunger relief, all the pieces at Fed By Threads are made entirely out of GMO-free materials, ranging from organic hemp to cotton. Production of each garment, right down to the design, is U.S.-made. Prices range from $20 to $90 per piece.
“I know the farmers who grew the organic cotton. And I know that’s from the 2012 cotton crop, and I know where it was spun, knit, dyed,” said Appadurai of the Indi Tank, which he describes as the first of their items to be completely grown, designed, and made within the continental United States.
“The people that walk through that door, sure, they’re coming for hopefully a cute dress or a cute piece,” said Appadurai, “but they’re really coming because I believe people are good and want to be part of something that turns a corner [for change].”
Because of Fed By Threads’ all-natural garments and numerous humanitarian missions, a loyal client base from Tucson and across the United States continues to frequent the new boutique.
“I think it’s great that when you purchase a product, you know it’s not only made here in America, we’re not outsourcing it to other countries, but a percentage of the profits go to feeding people that are hungry,” said Gina Rooney, a frequenter of Fed By Threads from Illinois.
“I just like their philosophy,” she added as she folded the Locally Grown, Fresh from the Farm onesie she had just purchased for an expecting friend. “We’re not in this alone. We’re in this together.”
Appadurai, in the spirit of community and dressing room self-esteem, also prefers to “experience pieces together” with just about every customer who walks through the door. “Part of what we are doing here is about positive body image,” said Appadurai. I don’t let people tear themselves apart in dressing rooms.”
Loyal fans Kate Lemke and Kay Wolferstetter have been coming to Fed By Threads for their T-shirts for over a year. The day after marriage equality had been made legal in their home state of Wisconsin, they came to Appadurai to discuss the statuesque couple’s impending courthouse ceremony, dress, and suit designs.
The pair not only wanted to celebrate their wedding in style, but was also looking for a way they could give back, themselves.
“We love it,” said Wolferstetter. “It’s super important to us that we keep it local and we keep it in the U.S. as far as keeping jobs here and not polluting our world.”
If you’re ever out on Congress with a little bit of extra cash to spend, Fed By Threads offers some good conversation and fashion with a purpose.
Fed By Threads. 345 E. Congress St. 520.396.4304. FedByThreads.com.