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Raleigh designers repurpose old materials into intriguing new fashions

Art d'eco

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We photographed our models in clothes and accessories from indieNC designers and Powell and Meredith's Redress Raleigh collections at Durham's Golden Belt campus. The former textile factory was used from the early 1900s to 1996 to make cloth pouches and packaging for Bull Durham tobacco. The buildings have been repurposed by Scientific Properties into a sustainable, funky mash-up of work, living and retail space, making the campus a fitting backdrop for the eco-friendly fashion.

For a self-professed introvert, Michelle Smith is very outspoken about supporting budding designers in North Carolina.

"I really want to put faces to locally made products," Smith said. "People love the idea of supporting their neighbors, and it really resonates with them that they are helping someone follow their passion and possibly afford to quit their day job."

A member of a growing community of local "renegade crafters," Smith organizes Raleigh's semiannual Rock and Shop Market, manages her design blog Feminine Modern and creates jewelry and apparel for her Michelle Smith design line.

Her most collaborative project, however, has been the indieNC.com site. Much like a local version of Etsy, the hipper, craftier version of eBay, indieNC designers can sell their wares, promote their brands and express themselves on the site's accompanying blog.

Smith started the Web site to showcase "the amazing pool of talent bubbling below the surface in North Carolina," and tap into recent surges of support for the local, handmade movement and a growing emphasis on environmentally friendly clothes and accessories.

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