It’s not unusual for charitable events to offer T-shirts to participants. The annual RAGS Wearable Art Sale moves that practice up several notches.
A Thursday night gala kicks off the 21st iteration of the weekend sale that has raised a total of $1,297,000 for the YWCA Pierce County’s domestic violence prevention and intervention programs.
The money comes from sales of unique clothing, fashion accessories and unusual jewelry created by more than 55 mostly local artists. It’s offered at a boutique-style show at Larson’s Mercedes-Benz of Tacoma in Fife. Entry is free.
Nearly all of RAGS’s proceeds go to the YWCA with no strings attached. That, said YWCA CEO Miriam Barnett, is as important as the funding itself.
“It’s unrestricted to serve our domestic violence clients in whatever way they need help,” Barnett said. “It helps the victims who come to our shelter, or need legal services, and for children to take part in therapeutic programs.”
A ticketed gala kicks off the four-day event with appetizers from Jonz Catering, live jazz from the Kareem Kandi Band, and perhaps most important to party goers, early access to vendors.
“You get first crack at everything available. So many of the items are one of a kind,” said Mandi Webster-Martin, the event’s marketing chairwoman. She is a member of the RAGS Guild, the all-volunteer group that organizes the event.
Webster-Martin said shoppers can expect to find beaded bracelets; hand-woven garments; gold, silver or precious stone jewelry; hand-dyed silk scarves; felted wool jackets and wraps; leather handbags and more.
Prices range from $20 to hundreds of dollars. “There are definitely things that will appeal to everyone, both in price and style,” Webster-Martin said. The public sale runs March 13-15.
RAGS also features a gallery of one-of-a-kind garments, accessories, and jewelry juried by local art authorities. This year it features everything from a slinky dress made from 2,500 painted can tabs to unique metal jewelry. Some of the gallery works are for sale.