Upcycled clothing company Sailor Doom Apparel is on a mission to fight fast fashion

In the name of the moon, say no to fast fashion

Reporting and writing by Jillian Holness

Every year, a new fashion trend emerges.  

Last year, biker shorts with blazers, Rosie the Riveter-esque broiler suits and impractical micro bags dominated magazines and runway shows, and were all sold out online. Edited, a retail data company, reported loungewear searches are up 855% this year compared to last year.

The great thing about trends is no matter how cringe-worthy they are, they only last about a year or two before fashion designers, social media influencers, and significant events dictate what next year’s trend will be. 

What will happen to our closets full of sweatpants and pajamas once the pandemic is over? Because let’s be real: No one really needs three month’s worth of oversized shirts, sweatpants and pajamas. Unless you have a friend or family member whose wardrobe is strictly loungewear, chances are you’ll probably end up throwing away some of your clothes. Then a new trend will appear, you’ll buy a few pieces, wear them for a season or two and then move on to the next trend.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

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Timothy Baxter, owner of Sailor Doom Apparel, says that we should think of throwing away a piece of clothing like throwing away a plastic bottle.

“You buy something online that’s $3.99 and obviously you’re not trying it on,” Baxter says. “So, [if it doesn’t fit] you’re not going to return that for $3.99. You’re going to throw it away.”

The 32-year-old also points out that most textiles used to create fast fashion items have plastic particles in them. 

“Textiles garments are the No. 2 product that is filling up our landfills, especially in the last 30 years,” Baxter says. “Since the 1980s and into the early 2000s, people were buying 200% more clothing and throwing away 85% more.”

As a former stylist, Baxter has witnessed firsthand how wasteful the fashion industry is. 

The “old” products usually end up being destroyed. The Outline has reported that former employees of Urban Outfitters, JCPenney, Nike and Victoria’s Secret have had to destroy perfectly good merchandise.

“I love working in fashion, but just seeing the amount of waste from a large corporation was hard for me to witness,” Baxter says. “It was fun doing it, but at what cost?” 

Now in Akron, Baxter has started the Sailor Doom Project, a sustainable fashion company that stands in opposition to the fast fashion industry.

“The idea behind what I do is sustainable products that don’t hurt the Earth more than it already has,” Baxter says. “Everything you do to make your carbon footprint smaller is helping everyone out in the long run, especially future generations. I’m not here to soak up all of our natural resources now so they’re screwed later on.” 

Baxter’s advice to others who want to stop participating in fast fashion is to start out slow. 

“If you have a whole wardrobe that’s all fast fashion and say you buy 10 things per month, but if you start small and just buy one thing that is upcycled or two things that are upcycled and just keep chipping away with that, eventually you will find that your wardrobe is less and less fast fashion,” Baxter explains. 

All of the pieces in the Sailor Doom Apparel collection are casual, unisex pieces that Baxter receives from the network of stylists, designers and curators he has formed over the years. He then transforms or upcycles them into new pieces with the help of screen printing. 

All of the screen prints are hand-drawn by Baxter and then printed out on machines in Mega Lab Limited, a screen printing shop on Grant Street, and which happens to be owned by Baxter’s brother Brian.

Besides Sailor Moon screens, Baxter also has a mini-collection called the Icons Project. Musicians David Bowie, Dolly Parton and Grace Jones are the faces of the collection. 

“I like that they’re enigmatic superstars. There are so many different layers to them,” Baxter says.  

Baxter thinks of the pop stars as being not only great musicians but also fashion icons and activists. Baxter appreciates David Bowie and Grace Jones as being gender benders, helping to inspire individuals who felt like they didn’t fit the traditional heterosexual mold or traditional male and female binaries. Baxter also appreciates Dolly Parton for the work she has done with schools, including the Dolly Foundation, Buddy Program and the Imagination Library and also her activism within the LGBTQ community.

Baxter describes himself as queer and says that he wears men’s and women’s clothing. 

“The idea of masculine and feminine to me is much broader. I feel like that’s more of a vibe and less of the garment of clothing you’re putting on,” Baxter explains. 

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Baxter says that the Sailor Doom Project isn’t just a protest against fast fashion, but it’s also a “smart and silent political protest” as well.

Baxter jokingly uses Sailor Moon and the popstar icons as candidates for president on his merch to trick people into being politically aware. 

“With comedy, you make light of serious situations, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not putting ‘F— Trump’ on anything, you know, because I feel like that’s too obvious. I like to start the conversation,” Baxter says. 

Baxter describes Sailor Doom as being a very liberal company, meaning that its eyes are open and looking forward to furthering education with all aspects of life.

“What I love about the idea of being a liberal is that it’s a quest of enlightenment, everybody is allowed to have their views,” Baxter says. “You’re not stuck on anything. You’re consistently trying to learn the view of everybody else. I’m a Libra and this describes me down to a T.”

Baxter says Sailor Doom encourages its customers to be their authentic selves. 

”I’m queer myself. I wear women’s clothing, I wear men’s clothing. The idea of masculine and feminine to me is much broader. I feel like that’s more of a vibe, and less of the garment of clothing,” Baxter explains. 

He also mentions that Sailor Doom Apparel encourages its customers to express themselves and style their new pieces however they want. 

“It’s not just about my collection. I also want it to feel that it’s a project you can be involved in,” Baxter explains. “I sell a lot of larger garments. I just sold three silk blouses as dresses for girls and then another girl bought the same size and she’s wearing it as a blouse. And another guy bought the same blouse and is wearing it as a blouse.”

Sailor Doom’s customer base is as diverse as its clothing. 

“[Sailor Doom] is for that anime girl in Japan who loves Dolly Parton. It is for that queer girl in LA who is androgynous and loves David Bowie,” Baxter says. “I grew up in a tiny, little town on a farm. It’s for little boys like me, small town, big city dreamers. It’s just about people who want to wear something easy to feel stylized or want to use garments to style themselves.”

Baxter eventually wants to expand and have consignment shops and thrift stores carry his products, but his main priority is getting people to see why upcycled clothing is cooler than fast fashion.

“I want people to say, ‘Oh my gosh, I had this shirt for almost 10 years and it’s still my favorite shirt,’’’ Baxter says.

Baxter also says he wants to trick people into caring for the greater good by using his passion, curated style and personal experiences. 

“When you care about something, it becomes priceless,” Baxter says. “When it becomes priceless, you’re never going to get rid of it, because it means something to you.”

To learn more about Sailor Doom Fashion or to order a piece, follow @sailordoomapparel on Instagram.