Deborah Carter describes herself as “a multimedia recycled artist specializing in clothing design.” Known for her brand Smooth Stone Clothing, and manipulation of recycled plastic, paper, fabric, and other found objects, she creates unique wearable works of art. Her creations are inspired by the material at the base and work toward a mission of sustainability and circularity attached to the recycling movement.
Carter learned from her mother and grandmothers how to sew, her first inklings of inspiration found in church pews, marveling at the garments, considering how each might have been made. Starting out as a young sewer, Carter would ask her mother to take her to the fabric store for the materials to make outfits for school. Her passion led her to the Parsons School of Design and later into the garment industry within New York City. Smooth Stone Clothing developed alongside the recycling and broader sustainability movements, and thus became a reflection of Carter’s own creed and that of the times.
Carter’s interest in production of clothing began with church outfits and has continued with recycled material, beginning with the medium she works out how to construct her art from its foundation. Inspiration for her comes from the materials themselves and the freedom and challenge they breed. Central to Carter’s designs are the space she makes for creativity and fun, for pushing past any constructed boundaries of fashion. She strives toward a brighter future wherein sustainable fashion plays an indisputable role, “absolutely necessary in order to save the planet.”
Looking ahead, Carter wants to draw attention to the recycled material she uses in order to stress the need for reusing what we already have and making it into something beautiful. Moving forward in the world of COVID-19, she is a proponent of sustainability as it extends to the people making the clothes, emphasizing proper wages and safe working conditions. All these taken together, Carter pushes for a world in which we sustain our appreciation for fashion as art, where we can revel in the construction and still compensate creators while not risking a future for ourselves.