Madam Chino makes sustainability fashionable

Madam Chino makes sustainability fashionable

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Madam Chino is at the forefront of ethical fashion in Milwaukee.

Inside a modest storefront on Palmer St. in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood is a colorful labyrinth of handmade treasures.

Vintage and reused designer clothing, handmade home goods, bags, shoes and weaved wall hangings are a few categories of items displayed from floor to ceiling and lining the walls down the very narrow pathway that leads deeper into the shop.

Madam Chino is an ethical fashion brand started by Vanessa Devaki Andrew in 2003.

Inspired by the resurgence of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, Andrew began channeling her background as an artist into reuse fashion.

Madam Chino, otherwise known as Vanessa Devaki Andrew, sits at one of her industrial sewing machines she revived.

Sixteen years later she successfully inhabits her own shop that expands much further than sustainable clothing.

In addition to also doing repairs, alterations, weaving, and creating new, unique designs from old clothing, Andrew has a heightened focus on education.

As a direct response to the consumerist culture of fast fashion, she advocates for the importance of spreading the knowledge and technical skills of repurposing things in hopes of people embracing a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Vanessa Devaki Andrew working with one of the revived industrial machines at the Madam Chino shop.

Andrew currently teaches classes on a weekly basis at MPS and is in the process of launching more educational opportunities for people to discover the artistry, satisfaction, and integrity of creating something new from something old.

Classes will soon be available to the public and hosted at the Madam Chino shop, located at 1737A N. Palmer St.

Experience the maze of the Madam Chino shop for yourself, including a behind-the-scenes look at Andrew at work behind her antique industrial machines (that she revived herself, of course) by watching the video above.

Laura Dyan Kezman

A souvenir our video producer left with after filming the video.