The discard piles of once trendy clothes are getting an upgrade while giving homeless teens togs that spark their confidence through the crafty work of Malibu, California high school junior Dillon Eisman.

Aware that people generally donate clothing that’s less than desirable to the underprivileged, Eisman, 16, took his interest in fashion and taught himself how to sew in order to turn the dowdy duds into hot fashion.

“I practiced on clothes my mom was going to donate to Goodwill and I was able to turn them into something trendy that teens would actually want to wear,” Dillon tells PEOPLE. “Often, when people donate the clothes don’t fit well and there’s no style and honestly, they look horrible.”

In that spirit, after years of donating clothes, he taught himself to sew and began creating his own designs and started his nonprofit “Sew Swag” in late 2014. Although he’s been a fan of “Project Runway” for years, and certainly takes fashion mentor Tim Gunn’s mantra “make it work” to heart, he didn’t set out to be a fashion designer.

That changed two years ago when Dillon toured the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and saw the limited clothing options the homeless kids had available to them. He quickly realized he could improve their self-esteem by giving them something they would be proud to wear.

So he grabbed his mom’s old sewing machine, which she says she didn’t even know how to use, and went on to learn sewing basics. He then turned to YouTube to educate himself on how to make circle skirts and other sewing projects.

It was a quick jump as he began using his own patterns to design clothes using material from donated clothing. Soon he was adding snaps and bling, and reconfiguring material like his mom’s old silk …read more


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