An environmentally conscious North Bay seamstress and dressmaker has dedicated much of her life to giving gently used clothing and accessories, a second chance.
Judy Thorne has organized numerous fashion shows over the years, in the process, diverting used clothes from ending up in the landfill.
Her next event is a pre-Mother’s Day Fashion Show and Sale scheduled for Sunday, May 7 at Emmanuel United Church, Lakeshore Drive, across from Metro.
Only 170 tickets will be sold.
“The first thing I do with the clothes I have collected is categorize them, as in mini-collections, like blacks; black and white, black and red, evening, animal prints, rainbow colours, and so on,” explained Thorne.
“I have five themed mini-collections that will be modeled live during the show. And then there are about 20 other mini-collections that vary from evening to casual, to sportswear to outerwear.”
Colour groupings reflect significant meanings.
“Red is for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, orange is a reminder of the Every Child Matters initiative, blue and yellow are the colours of Ukraine, pink is for breast cancer, and rainbow colours for the LGBTQ community,” Thorne shared.
Thorne prides herself on showcasing gently used, good-quality clothes.
“Every garment that is in the show, is top quality in my opinion, that I have saved and that will not go into the landfill. My goal is to recycle and get them back into other people’s closets to appreciate.”
Thorne describes herself as “a storyteller through fashion.”
“I am a visual storyteller of colour and texture. I like to tell stories”
Thorne has a long-standing partnership with Clothes Encounters of the 2nd Kind Consignment store on Oak Street in downtown North Bay.
“And I take all her clothes that have not sold through the season, sort them and put them aside. I donate a lot to Nbisiing Secondary School, and what is not suitable is donated to Rebuilt Resources.”
The fashion show will feature roughly one thousand inexpensive pieces.
“There is probably 150 pairs of boots and shoes, top-notch, really really good quality. There will be accessories like purses, jewelry, and scarves. The floor of the hall will be set up like a boutique,” explained Thorne.
“Everything will be clearly marked with all fall and winter wear going at half price. So, for instance, if you’ve got a soft leather jacket that is tagged for $40, it is going to be $20.00. There will be some items as low as $2.00.”
Proceeds from the fashion show will go to pre-selected local charities.
“The sale of the clothes will be split 50/50 between L.I.P.I. (Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing) and OUTLoud North Bay,” Thorne shared.
“There is going to be a wall of treasures where you can donate a dollar or a can of food and you get 10 tickets. It is like a penny sale. Everything on this wall is brand new, never been worn. The tickets are still on them. All the food that is collected stays at Emmanuel to provide resources for their charity program of providing food to the community.”
Thorne will also be introducing Maryna Bieliaieva and her daughter Polina, who are two of the 20 models who range in age from eight years old to 87 years old.
“So there is something for everyone. All sizes, all shapes, all ages,” said Thorne.
The young mother along with her husband and two other children arrived in the area last August after escaping war-torn Ukraine.
Bieliaieva hopes to build on her own skills as a seamstress in her new community.
“I am happy,” said the newcomer.
“I want to sew and help other ladies.”
Tina Karvinen has helped the family since their arrival.
“I think they’re settling in really well. Her dream is to have a home business where she does alterations and creates custom made work and so on, for people. So I think this is going to create good exposure for her. She can showcase some of her work at the show and meet people from the community. So I think it will be helpful for launching that for her.”
Thorne is also doing what she can to help Bieliaieva.
“I’m just here to support and encourage the development of whatever she (Maryna) feels she is capable of doing with her skills, but she has to start somewhere” said Thorne.
“So, that is my goal. It may take awhile but this is an opportunity for a lot of women to get to know who Maryna is. And I will be mentoring her in the art of alterations, and hopefully fine skilled work like bridal.”
The church will be donating a portion of the ticket sales to the family.
“Everything that is in this show I love. It is because I appreciate fabric and textiles and the work that goes into making them. And they are being sold for next to nothing,” explained Thorne.
Any items left over will find a new home.
“Whatever is left over, will be split between Nbisiing Secondary School and Amelia Rising Sexual Violence Support Centre. So nothing will be thrown away.”
Tickets are $15 and are available at Clothes Encounters of the 2nd Kind on Oak Street.
Tickets will not be sold on the day of the show.
“I’m taking reservations so people can book ahead. Tickets will not be sold at the door. The tickets are all pre-reserved and are also available by calling 705-495-4382,” Thorne explained.