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Eco-Fashion and Art Show

Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2012

The 2nd Annual Eco-Fashion and Art Show hosted by the Office of Sustainability took place in early February. Students, staff, and faculty collaborated to plan and prepare the event since fall quarter, organizing the fashion show and related events such as a screening of the documentary “Waste Land,” workshops at the Tech Shop in downtown San Jose, and a design workshop with Joanne Martin of the SCU Costume Shop.

Watch a YouTube video from the show.

These events and activities sought to educate students on issues ranging from the impact of fashion on the lives of global garment workers to waste, learning about the large amounts of textiles ending up in our landfills. The Eco-Fashion and Art Show was also a night to celebrate art by showcasing the talents of SCU students who created moveable eco-fashion on the runway as well as artwork in a recycled art gallery. Student-designers and artists were asked to take recyclable materials or other materials that would normally go to landfill to create a piece of art that not only looks cool and can either be worn again or can be recycled after the show.

Some designers reused fabrics from other clothes or fabric scraps from the Costume Shop on campus. Some designers chose to use waste material found in their rooms or around campus: packaging materials, old flyers, and VHS tape. The designers’ challenge was to design something that is durable, repairable, and recyclable. The designers were asked to not use any duct tape or staples to construct their designs so that they would be able to take every piece apart and recycle it after the show was over. Each year, it is estimated that about 1 million tons of textiles are just thrown away, and other things like packaging, make up more than 30 percent of what ends up in our landfills.

Through the work of the student designers and artists, audience members were encouraged to think about the items and products they frequently may use, and think about alternative uses and reuses by putting things on the runway instead of sending them to the landfill.

The Eco-Fashion and Art Show sought to educate and encourage students to think about the labor behind the labels on the clothes we wear. For many garment workers around the world, their basic needs for themselves and their families are not being met; living wages that provide for things such as food, shelter, childcare, and education. Fortunately, consumers have real power to address this problem and advocate for change. We can write, email, and, most importantly, BUY the brands that are treating their employees fairly. We also have the power as students to buy eco-fashion made with materials that are grown without pesticides and other harmful chemicals or made with recycled and reused materials, which reduces the impact on the environment and the people that interact with these materials, like our garment workers. Students also have the power to learn how to make and repair their own clothes, and we saw this through the creative work of the 11 Santa Clara students who designed for the 2nd Annual Eco-Fashion and Art Show.

What can you do if you think you can’t sew your own clothes?

  • Reduce. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Find clothes that you really love, ones that never will go out of fashion.
  • Repair. Fix stuff that still has life in it.
  • Reuse. Share, or swap with a friend! In May, the Office of Sustainability will host the 2nd Annual Swap for Good, a campus-wide clothing exchange working with students, staff, and faculty members to collect items to benefit and support local community programs like the Princess Project, where formal dresses will go to high school girls, and Home Safe, a shelter for women and their children. At the Swap for Good, for every item you add to the swap, you’ll be able to shop for ‘new to you’ clothing and accessories that others have added!

At the Eco-Fashion and Art Show, local community experts and businesses came to showcase and sell their sustainable products and artwork, as well as to lead interactive art-making activities with attendees. These organizations sell locally-designed lines or produce their own fashion and accessories. The Office of Sustainability thanks them for adding their creativity to our event and encourages the Santa Clara community to continue to connect to them and their work:

Tech Shop San Jose

IBISS Boutique


A Peace Chain



For more information about the Eco-Fashion and Art Show, or how you can get involved with next year’s show as a designer, artist, or planner, please contact Michelle at

By Michelle Tang, '13, Sustainability Intern -- Student Initiatives

Tags: Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, Get Involved, Program Highlights, Residence Life, Student Life, Waste



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