The ability to use clothing to create an identity or style greatly impacts the way people view themselves and others.
However, the fashion industry is unforgiving when it comes to sustainability, creating vast amounts of waste. According to a 2015 study, over 10 million tons of clothing and other discarded fabrics ended up in landfills in the United States.
In an attempt to combat this growing issue, the Sustainability Club organized a fashion show focused on sustainable practices for the first time.
The theme this year was “Upcycle Your Style.” Designers were given the opportunity to either create looks out of materials that would otherwise go to landfills, or to thrift their entire outfit. The main guideline for contestants stated they could not buy anything new, only secondhand or throw-away items.
“It’s really just highlighting sustainability and zero waste as a whole,” said Megan Hill a sophomore environmental studies major.
Hill, who was the fashion show event coordinator, explained that the Sustainability Club wanted to find a way to get students more involved on campus and bring the club more attention.
In order to draw the attention of staff and students around campus, the club wanted to find a way to make sustainability approachable and exciting. The fashion show has thus been in the works since last semester, and was the biggest event hosted by the Sustainability Club yet.
“We really wanted to use it as a fun way to promote sustainability,” Haley Neill, Sustainability Club vice president said. “I think putting on an upcycle fashion show definitely helps us promote that, whether it’s getting clothes at second hand rather than purchasing them from stores or just recycling them.”
While the event was a fundraiser for the club, they also wanted to find a way to give back to the community. People attending the event were encouraged to bring in cans of food or articles of clothing in order to receive up to two dollars off of their admission.The club will donate the food and clothes they received to local causes.
The fashion show had a total of twelve looks presented on the runway, ranging from everyday to experimental looks.
One designer, Tristan Harris, who is also the volunteer coordinator and service learning leader of the sustainability department, explained that she showcased her halloween costume to display her creativity and passion for sustainability.
“My piece is meant to represent Mother Nature or Gaia,” Harris said. “I wanted to make sure everything was re-used or thrifted.”
Harris only used items that she already owned or bought at thrift stores for her entire look. Crafted from an old bridesmaid gown, green drapes, artificial flowers and leaves harvested from old wreaths, and green makeup from a previous Halloween, Harris transformed everyday items into an ethereal outfit.
“Though my piece is more extravagant, there are casual ways to be thrifty and stylish everyday,” Harris said.
The Sustainability Club fashion show gave designers the opportunity to explore the possibilities of sustainable fashion and exhibit their zero-waste looks.
“This was the perfect opportunity to share my creativity and passion with others, and help students and the community realize how easy it is to practice sustainability in a fun, affordable and unique way,” Harris said. “I hope to inspire and reconnect people with the environment.”