Rising Fashion Designer Focuses on Sustainability
Sarahbeth Larrimore ’04 prides herself on being a fashion designer with a liberal-arts edge. She focuses not only on the end product but the entire creative process—a skill she honed at UNC Asheville.
At age 12, Larrimore was designing and playing with fabric, but she decided early on to shun the traditional fashion academy education. “Design school would have been too narrowly focused and too expensive,” said Larrimore. Instead, she pursued an interdisciplinary studies degree at UNC Asheville centered on art, theater, philosophy and political science.
It turned out to be a good move. In the five short years since she graduated, the Blues Creek, N.C., native has founded Unabashed Apparel, an up-and-coming clothing line with an emphasis on environmentally sustainable fashions. Earlier this year, Larrimore was named among the “30 Under 30” women to watch by Verve Magazine.
“I feel really solid about my education and how it has helped me build my business platform. I apply environmentalism and humanitarian aspects to what I do. It’s equally important to me to consider how my business affects the lives of the people around me and the environment,” said Larrimore. “You don’t get that kind of education in a design school or fashion academy. I wanted to think of other aspects besides making a pretty dress.”
But she has succeeded on that front as well. Her designs—created in her 100-year-old farmhouse studio—have been called “fluid,” “romantic” and “just plain charming” by reviewers across the Southeast. Larrimore’s clothing lines also feature organic and fairly traded fabrics treated with low-impact, fiber reactive dyes. She donates one percent of her profits to Clean Water for North Carolina.
“I want to know I’m doing my best to design and produce clothing that is conscious, responsible and lasts. If that means it takes longer and nets less monetarily, I’ll take that trade with a hearty smile,” Larrimore said. “I am an environmentalist, a humanitarian and a fashion designer. All of those are equally important to me when it comes to my business.”
She credits UNC Asheville for helping solidify the importance of such a well-rounded business. She recalls certain classes that left an indelible mark, including a freshman political science course that examined globalization and capitalism.
“I wanted to know about a lot of things. UNC Asheville allowed me to do that,” she said. “It was a really thorough education.”
I feel really solid about my education and how it has helped me build my business platform.” – Sarahbeth Larrimore