Trashion Shows are All the Rage

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Trashion Show at University of Minnesota, Morris
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nic McPhee Trashion show at University of Minnesota, Morris

A dress made of Capri Sun halves and a plastic trash bag, a chic cocktail dress made from coffee filters, another dress made of 2-liter soda bottles…bubble wrap pasties- what IS this?

It can only mean one thing: A Trashion Show!

Who says you have to go out and buy yards of expensive fabric? Trashion events around the country showcase wearable fashions made of aluminum, paper, plastic, and all means of crinkly fabric from other diverse materials as a way to help spread consciousness about recycling. Shows like these demonstrate how you can be fashionable and chic while using resources wisely.

Choose any day as a chance to display pieces made of recyclable materials- put on shows in commemoration of Earth Day or for any excuse to tout a green message. Artists, designers, models, hair stylists, make-up artists and environmentally-minded folks are needed to create and wear trashion. Participants and attendees will take away the message that items which may have seemed like garbage are usable in other ways. Besides, at a trashion show, it’s okay to exclaim, “Wow! Look at the can on THAT!”

Upcycled clothes may seem a little odd to some, and it’s true that some concoctions are not suitable for wearing outside of the show, but remember that the event is geared toward learning. It’s not just for fashion design students, but anyone interested in creative reuse.

In addition to focusing on the importance of recycling, a Trashion Show is another way of showing participants’ work and creativity. Shows are great ways for people to be challenged to use their imaginations, and along with a new mindset on trash, an event like this helps bring people together and is helpful for fundraising.

Compete With Your Trashion Show

Have a friendly competition open to everyone to increase the numbers of participants. Include rewards for winners of the show such as iPods, CDs and gift certificates. Remember that recycling itself should be a reward because you are making a smart choice and preserving materials. When you have groups or schools collectively recycle or compete for a reward, however, it is a big incentive.

Tips for a Magnificent Trashion Show

  • Specify that all outfits are to be made of only already used materials.
  • Encourage designers to have a theme so the finished product does not look like trash but rather inspires spectators to reuse what was thought of as disposable.
  • Drum up volunteers and materials plenty of time before your event because a lot of work goes into one. In some cases it may take a year to collect all materials! Plus, a dress can take up to several hundred hours to make.
  • Consider if you’ll need a make-up artist, hair stylist and how many model(s) are needed.
  • Run through a dress rehearsal the night before.
  • Some outfits are sturdier than others, so be prepared with safety pins, a glue gun or a trusty needle and thread for any garments that need repair.
Trashion show at University of Minnesota, Morris
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nic McPhee Trashion show at University of Minnesota, Morris

It may be a challenge to work with some materials, but it pushes you to use your imagination and more ideas flow to you as you’re working.

Fundraising With Your Trashion Show

Work in conjunction with another nonprofit or local utilities program that shares the message of creating awareness about conserving resources in your area. Another idea is to have guests bring a can of food as their admission “ticket” that they donate in order to see the show that goes to a food bank. Advertise that all proceeds will be donated to you, your partnering organization, or the cause of your choice.

Read more about cradle-to-cradle design initiatives and zero-waste garment production.

Trashion Shows Around the Country

Check out this site for a year round listing of trash fashion shows around the country.

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