Naked hula hoops await adornment (top); some cowl shrugs come with a hood and pockets.
When Breezi Perdue designs a new piece to be handmade in her State Street clothing shop, it has to meet specific criteria: It must be versatile, and the manufacturing must be eco-friendly.
“Whether you want to sit on a couch or climb a mountain, it’s going to work for you, it’s going to be comfortable and have function,” says the 27-year-old owner of Gnar Hoops & Happy World Clothing. “And, everything we make here has zero waste, and our process is 100 percent green-powered.”
To achieve this, Perdue creates her “functional fashion” items, such as hoodies and crop tops, out of fleece and other athletic-type, breathable fabrics. Scraps are reused or given away free. And the store is powered by renewable energy credits received through Ethos Green Power.
The clothing shop also sells a full array of hula hoops, accessories and decorative hoop tape. The hoops sold here are, of course, made from nontoxic materials. Perdue occasionally offers hoop-taping classes as well.
Hula hooping has undergone a resurgence in recent years because “it’s an all-around, engaging activity — not only physically, but also mentally,” says Perdue, adding that many use the Native American dance art form as meditation. The hoops she sells also fall in line with the store’s eco-friendly theme. In fact, the “Gnar” in the store name stands for “gap-free, nontoxic, affordable and round.”
Perdue says one of her most popular items are the cowl shrugs. These oversized, infinity-scarf-like neck coverings are made with colorful, patterned Nepalese fabric and can include a “stash pocket,” hoods or fleece lining. “I want to cover the campus in cowl shrugs,” says Perdue. She’s also recently created “growl shrugs” for dogs.
Another popular item are Perdue’s handmade fleece women’s underpants. That’s right, underpants made from fleece. While some might scoff at using fleece for undergarments, the scoffing stops after trying a pair, says Perdue. “They’re super-comfortable and warm, but not too warm,” she says. The underwear features a barely there elastic waistband to maintain comfort and contour.
Because of the fleece underpants’ popularity — and because she didn’t want anyone to feel left out — Perdue also created fleece boxers,and those have been flying off the racks as well.
While most of the store’s items are made on-site, there are a few items, like the stylish, sports bra-esque bralettes, that Perdue can’t make herself because of sewing equipment limitations. To help customers distinguish where and how items are made, she’s posted signs around the shop designating what items are zero-waste, handmade, made on-site or a combination.
After beginning Gnar Hoops as an online-only store four years ago, then moving from her East Washington Avenue location to the downtown spot a year ago, Perdue says owning a business can be frustrating at times, but it’s well worth it.
“For me, sewing is a meditative process,” says the former teacher. “It’s fulfilling to create a piece of art and know that someone’s going to wear it and use it.”
To celebrate its one-year anniversary on State Street, the shop is hosting an open house and fashion show Feb. 24 at 7 p.m
Gnar Hoops & Happy World Clothing, 507 State St., gnarhoops.com