A new clothing store specializing in yoga and bohemian clothing will open in downtown Phoenix at CityScape this summer.
Ra-Apparel will sell clothing made of organic and recycled materials during a soft opening in the summer. The store will have a grand opening on September 15 with a fashion show in the CityScape courtyard with 75 to 100 models, Ra-Apparel owner Roman Acevedo said.
Acevedo wanted to start a new venture creating affordable yoga clothing. Now, he’s trying to build a business that makes a difference in the community and the environment.
The clothing will be department-store quality and the store will offer a lifetime guarantee on all clothing, he added.
“Money will come if you do things right. That’ll take care of itself,” Acevedo said. “We’re trying to make a product people are excited for.”
Although Ra-Apparel specializes in organic clothing, some items will not be made with organic material.
ASU Downtown student Alexis Roeckner said a sustainable clothing store is a wonderful idea.
“Not only would a sustainable clothing store be a good touristy attraction, it would promote a more environmentally friendly perspective to a city that is already an example of urban sprawl,” Roeckner said.
Acevedo partnered with the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center, an organization that retrains workers and finds jobs, to staff his team.
Currently, Acevedo has 20 students that went through the training, learning pattern making, manufacturing, dying and silk screening.
In the future, Ra-Apparel hopes to have up to 150 employees who can make 200-300 items daily, Acevedo said.
“Their background doesn’t matter, just the desire to learn,” he said.
Using eco-friendly production methods is also important to Acevedo.
Ra-Apparel buys all its organic cotton from textile mills in the United States and most are “mom-and-pop places trying to keep their doors open,” Acevedo said.
“It costs a little more, but I’m willing to make it,” he added.
Besides cotton, some of the clothing is made out of refined bamboo and recycled plastic bottles. The former is refined and spun into cloth. The latter is turned into nylon and spun with cotton, but it feels just like cotton and is actually a little more durable, Acevedo said.
“We’re all about feeling,” he said. “If it doesn’t feel good, we’re not putting it on.”
Journalism major Charissa Heckard also believes a sustainable clothing store is a good idea. She added that Acevedo will need to provide a lot of information about sustainability and his business to be successful.
“Everyone who is really knowledgeable about sustainability can see through false attempts,” Heckard said.
Businesses are realizing that sustainability is popular and are using that label to bring in sales and target audiences without actually being sustainable, Heckard added. Also, many sustainable products are often expensive.
“If (Ra-Apparel) is addressing the cost, that’s sustainability,” Heckard said. “If they’re costing extreme amounts, it’s only sustainable to those who can afford it and not everyone, which sustainability is about.”
Acevedo chose downtown for his business because of the revitalization movement and the expansion for growth.
“Young people with the energy will change downtown Phoenix,” he said.
Ra-Apparel may expand in the future, but Acevedo thinks the business will always have its roots in Phoenix. Products will also be available online.
The clothing store isn’t the only way Acevedo is trying to make a difference downtown.
Besides the production studio, Acevedo has a free yoga studio in the loft. The studio is not to make money but any donations are given to the teacher, he said.
“(Yoga) helps me stay balanced, focused, it allows me to create,” Acevedo added. “If it wasn’t for yoga, (Ra-Apparel) would be all about profit and we’d be making clothing overseas.”
His studio, which is also in the manufacturing studio located near First and Jackson streets, is also the only “anti-gravity” studio in downtown Phoenix with harnesses that suspend users in the air to help them stretch more, Acevedo said.
Sociology and business senior Brittany Harris doesn’t wear yoga clothing often but said she is going to look into Ra-Apparel because she wants to wear yoga clothing more.
“I like the variety. They’re not sticking to one style,” she said.
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Clarification: April 26, 2012
An earlier version of this did not state that although Ra-Apparel will specialize in organic clothing, some of its items will not be organic.