Enya Pan carefully embroiders perennial flower patterns onto a polo shirt. Soon after she threads the final stitch she’ll list the item in an online storefront for Apple&Olive, a sustainable fashion brand featuring one-of-a-kind wares. This particular shirt is a part of the current Perennial line at Apple&Olive, a playful wink to the cyclical nature of these recycled clothing items: “Perennial plants for perennial clothes.”
Enya is Apple&Olive’s founding designer and creator, upcycling secondhand and overstock clothing items into one-of-a-kind apparel and accessories. She’s also a high school senior.
The idea for Apple&Olive came to her in an AP environmental science class during her junior year of high school. After learning about the tons of waste and microfiber pollution produced by the textile industry every year, Enya felt called to action and she wanted to call in others too, building a community of engaged and enthusiastic supporters that could begin to address this waste.
“[I learned that] textile waste takes thousands of years to decompose,” she said. “I wanted to elongate the lifespan of a garment so it could be reused again and again and pass from person to person instead of ending up in a landfill and then the ocean.”
In 2018 she started Apple&Olive. Fast fashion is everywhere, but the clothes she creates require time by design—and the designs are popular. Typically, Apple&Olive garments sell out moments after being placed on sale.
“I really admire Japanese boro textiles,” she said. “I was inspired by how they exemplify the beauty of used items when reimagined.”
The same year she started her fashion brand, Enya participated in a community beach cleanup on Baker Beach and met National Park Service Ranger Mia Monroe. Ranger Mia introduced her to the Parks Conservancy and our mission, which she quickly identified as allying with her own. One year after starting the brand, Enya wrote her first $1,000 check to the Conservancy, the full profits of her fashionable endeavor.
Next fall, Enya will be attending Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design as part of the Brown | RISD Dual Degree Program. She’ll be majoring in industrial design with a concentration in “either environmental studies, business economics, or sociology.” Apple&Olive will continue in some capacity, as will Enya’s support of the Parks Conservancy, she says.
Person to person and stitch by stitch, Enya Pan is closing the loop in fashion, rescuing old and unsold garments from landfills and repurposing them into something sustainable and worth treasuring forever, just like these parks.