Green Dreams

Wear your consciousness on your sleeve at OTR’s Substance.

Photographs by Chris Smith

There can be more to a green lifestyle than swapping light bulbs and recycling. Take the sustainability-minded fashion at Substance in Over-the-Rhine. Many of the shop’s brands (some of which are designed in-house) are created with organic or repurposed materials, or sourced from small-batch and fair trade manufacturers.

You may recognize the Substance name from the original shop in Columbus’s Short North district. Owner Christina Getachew relocated to Cincinnati in 2007 and soon started scouting sites to expand her store. She settled on Over-the-Rhine for the same reason that many new shops, restaurants, galleries, and businesses have ended up there: The neighborhood’s artistic and collaborative atmosphere is downright catching.

Getachew has installed a Design Lab in the Cincinnati location, where staffers repurpose old or out-of-season items into new (and in some cases, completely different) garments and accessories. Her most inspired idea is updating humble T-shirts into hand-loomed and crocheted scarves and clutches. Substance even provides co-ops to students in UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, who help to create the Design Lab garments. Naturally, the shop works with local designers in each market to stock both locations. “Selling locally-made products in our store is a big part of how we try to be sustainable,” Getachew says. “And there is a lot of it here in Cincinnati.”

Substance, 1435 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 381-0545,

Originally published in the April 2013 issue

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