At Sardine Clothing Company in Roxborough, a shiny ivory sewing machine sits in a studio, surrounded by spools of thread in myriad colors. This is where owner Maryanne Petrus Gilbert or her employees hand-craft garments to sell in the adjoining retail space.
Here, colorful duds cast aside by their previous owners find new life in the form of upcycled skirts, T-shirts and accessories. Petrus Gilbert says that nearly all of the fabrics used to make the shop’s signature pieces come either from thrift stores or are donated. The result is fashion with both a heart and a conscience.
Petrus Gilbert regularly combs thrift stores seeking colorful fabrics (primarily T-shirts bearing unique patterns, cashmeres and cottons) to use. “Other than the zippers, thread and elastic, all of this is recycled,” she says, gesturing to her inventory. “Everything has been pre-loved, pre-shrunk, and already done any harm to the environment [prior to its arrival at Sardine].”
A jeweler by trade before opening her business, Petrus Gilbert likens creating her one-of-a-kind garments to soldering with fabric. Floral and faunal appliqués are merged with graphic prints bearing band names and solid color blocks—no two pieces are alike.
Designing clothing made from recycled materials began as a hobby and eventually blossomed into a thriving business. In 2008, Petrus Gilbert began selling her wares at craft shows and on Etsy and branched out from there. On Small Business Saturday of 2013 (November 30th), she opened the doors to her 1,000-foot store nestled six blocks from Manayunk’s Main Street. Along with upcycled fashions, Sardine also sells repurposed jewelry, organic lotions and gift items hand-crafted by local artists artists—many of Petrus Gilbert met through local craft fairs.
For more information, visit sardineclothing.com.
Story and photos by Gina Marie Lazar