Drischler and Jordan Tomb go through clothing
donated to the Garment Project.
— An outfit that fits just right has the potential to
empower. But the process of finding one — which often
involves sorting through a dizzying sea of sizes that
varies from brand to brand — can be overwhelming,
particularly for someone who is recovering from an eating
where Garment Project comes in. Erin Drischler and her
fiance, Jordan Tomb, who live on the North Side, recently
started the nonprofit that works with treatment facilities
to provide outgoing patients with new sizeless clothing.
That way, women in recovery can focus on successfully
transitioning back to their daily routines and maintaining
a healthy lifestyle, without focusing on what size they’re
home to my closet after multiple different treatment stays
and my clothes were too big or too small, I used them as a
tool to measure my weight or size." says Drischler,
who struggled with anorexia nervosa for 14 years. "My
clothing didn’t necessarily keep me sick, but it was a
constant reminder of the person I was with my eating
disorder. Clothing also was a way I could transform myself
to be the person I wanted to be."
estimated 20 million women in the United States have an
eating disorder, Garment Project states on its website (
fiscal sponsorship from New Sun Rising (a local
organization that supports solutions to social issues),
the couple launched the project last month, timed with
National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and were humbled
by the positive responses they received. One of the first
retailers to reach out to them was Cranberry teen clothing
chain rue21, which donated boxes of clothing to the cause.
Before pieces are packed and shipped to treatment centers
for distribution, all tags with sizing information will be
removed. Those in recovery will get access to an
individualized website where they can browse and select
the clothes they like.
addition to options for teenagers, Garment Project is
seeking professional apparel and casual wear for adult
women. While no clothing has been distributed yet, details
are being worked out for a partnership with a national
treatment center that would expand the group’s reach
beyond the region.
two years ago, Drischler and Tomb started to get serious
about turning their ideas for the endeavor into a reality
— a leap they felt their professional backgrounds
equipped them to take. Until the end of last year,
Drischler worked full time at Nordstrom managing a few
departments. She’s since scaled back her hours to focus
on Garment Project. Tomb works for the marketing agency
Deeplocal in the Strip District and uses his experience as
a documentarian to chronicle their nonprofit’s journey.
Garment Project still is in its infancy, the path to this
point has been a very personal one for its founders.
Drischler and Tomb met about five years ago while
attending Point Park University and The Art Institute of
Pittsburgh, respectively. When Drischler went to
California for a treatment program, Tomb came along, too.
Erin and becoming close with her was my introduction to
this issue," he says. "I went out to California
and participated in some sessions with her and her team
out there and tried to get more comfortable in this
is now two years into her recovery and is doing
"phenomenally better," her fiance says.
spent a lot of time really learning how to feel confident
in speaking and taking up space and knowing that my voice
mattered and I had something to offer," she adds.
that meant tuning out the images on television, social
media and in magazines that depict a narrow view of beauty
and a woman’s body. She’s encouraged, though, by the
"small steps toward improvement" that have
cropped up in fashion campaigns and on the catwalk.
Bryant, ModCloth and Aerie by American Eagle are some of
the labels that have been at the forefront of
incorporating women of more body types (and, in some
cases, not retouching photos) in their ads. Meanwhile, New
York Fashion Week in February featured 26 plus-size models
(up from 16 last September), according to the Fashion Spot’s
latest Runway Diversity Report. (It was the city’s best
season on record for including models of a range of sizes,
although plus-size women still only made up fewer than 1
percent of all models cast.)
couple hope Garment Project can spark more conversations
about healthy relationships between fashion and body image
— and maybe someday extend its services to include
sizeless clothing for men in recovery, too.
really hoping people will be able to look past numbers and
realize what else they have to offer versus the size they’re
buying," Drischler says.