Emma Hoarty / Sun Staff Photographer

Models at the ECOuture wearing designs made from recyclable and used materials.

April 15, 2018

Environmental Fashion Show Raises Awareness on Sustainable Living and Clothing Concepts

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Student designers exhibited fashion clothing made from recyclable materials at the ECOuture environmental fashion show Saturday night to raise awareness for environmental sustainability in the fashion industry.

The show, hosted by Cornell Environmental Collaborative, attracted 14 designers from diverse majors to encourage students to “stand up for social and environmental justice in the context of the clothing industry,” according to its Facebook page.

The creative fashion show featured apparel made using newspapers, paper bags, old jeans and other material conventionally considered as trash.

Prof. Tasha Lewis Ph.D. ’09, fiber science and apparel design, encouraged students to reconsider “the way you think about your cloth and the future of your outfit” in her opening speech.

Lewis said that about 85 percent of consumed clothing would eventually end up in landfill, which, for her, “[is] kind of hard to hear because most of the textiles [of our clothes] are recyclable.”

Keanna Chang ’18, one of the designers for the show, said it was “stressful but really cool” to design attires using recycled materials, which many see as impractical for clothing.

“They are really cool, but people just [think] they are not wearable,” Chang said.

Chang’s design was made with a dress from a thrift store and sewed with the “sequins” she cut out from a chip bag, which, despite what it’s made with, “doesn’t even look like it is made out of trash,” according to Chang.

Martha Williams ’20, ECO vice president of events and lead coordinator for the event, told The Sun that the show aimed to make a social impact rather than just be aesthetically pleasing.

“What I really wanted to do the most is to make sure people don’t just see the nice design here … and then go home,” Williams said. “I wanted people to say that, ‘look there’s things you can actually do.’”

The show also featured presentation of several eco-friendly student organizations and companies, including Cornell THRIFT, the Ecology House and guests from LAVARI, a zero-waste womenswear company.

“We can’t just look at the environment and say ‘oh we need to fix the environment’ without thinking about [the] people,” Williams said. “If we can’t educate people to go out and make these changes, then we are not doing anything.”