Charity goes from rags to stitches; RECYCLING PROJECT IS CUTTING ITS CLOTH TO SUIT.
WORN-OUT rags at the back of your wardrobe could be transformed into trendy threads fit for any fashion victim.
Fashion recycling charity TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) is to set up in the North East for the first time.
Shoppers searching for new togs will be asked to bring their old clothes and shoes to recycling banks at Gateshead's MetroCentre, Newcastle's Eldon Square and Dalton Park in County Durham.
Designers will then use items to create one-off garments for the award-winning recycled fashion label TRAIDremade.
The aim is to show how one man's trash is another man's treasure and that old clothes can become much-loved new items for someone else.
Maria Chenoweth-Casey, chief executive of TRAID, said: "It's extremely exciting for TRAID to start textile recycling in the North East. There has been huge enthusiasm from everyone involved.
"Since TRAID launched in 1999, we have diverted more than 25,000 tonnes of textiles from landfill sites, and raised over pounds 1.2m to fight global poverty. We look forward to working with the communities in the North East to expand the re-use and recycling of unwanted clothing."
TRAID was set up to help the environment by re-using and recycling clothes, saving them from landfill, while raising money to fund green projects and schemes to help cut poverty in developing countries.
Clothing donated to TRAID is sorted by hand, with good quality cast-offs being resold in one of the organisation's nine shops. Damaged clothing is revamped by TRAID designers.
The charity also holds ethical fashion workshops for thousands of youngsters every year, raising awareness about recycling, waste and climate change.
TRAID is taking part in The Big Shop, the region's first major shopping festival, being held in Eldon Square, Metro-Centre, Dalton Park, Royal Quays in North Shields and The Bridges in Sunderland, from May 24 to June 8.
Clothing banks will be available in the shopping centres during that period and, if they prove successful, after that as well.
The festival is organised by Tourism Tyne and Wear and the NewcastleGateshead Initiative NGI, with highlights including fashion shows, competitions, street entertainment and special offers for shoppers.
Andrew Dixon, executive director for Tourism Tyne & Wear said: "Anything which encourages people to recycle rather than throw away is to be encouraged."
A series of events are also being held as part of The Big Shop to encourage people to become amateur designers.
On May 31 and June 1 in Eldon Square, would-be designers can work with TRAID staff to create their own piece, using paints, buttons, embroidery and materials provided. At Dalton Park on June 7 shoppers can join design students from Sunderland University to revive and re-invent some old clothing.
Visit www.newcastlegateshead.co.uk/shopping or for information about TRAID visit www.traid.org.uk
RAG TRADE: Youngsters donate unwanted old clothes for the fashion recycling charity; TRANSFORMATION: One of the new items is shown off