On September 30, Project: Trashion hosted their first sustainable fashion show titled: THE UNION. The newly founded University of Waterloo club was created by students, volunteers, and friends who shared the same initiative to reduce waste and make an impact on the environment through art.
THE UNION was held at the Old Boehemer Box factory in Kitchener, where Project: Trashion displayed fashion pieces designed and modelled by Waterloo students. The exhibition included two fashion shows and an eco-market trade show that showcased products made from sustainable waste.
Project: Trashion aims to present issues of sustainability in the fashion industry and make individuals conscious of their consumption. Yoshi Matsuzaki, the president of Project: Trashion and a second-year environment and business student also said, “Project: Trashion is essentially about using creative resources to educate people through arts and media.” The club wanted to create a way to engage students and form a community with those who shared the same goals. THE UNION itself was a call to action and meant to highlight this message.
In the fashion shows, the designs were split into two categories: thrift and waste.
The thrift portion featured outfits donated from used clothing stores such as Plato’s Closet Kitchener, Thrift on Kent, Lunamoon and A Million Elephants. Matsuzaki said, “We didn't just want to create a fashion show out of waste. The thing about sustainability is, you have multiple ways to be sustainable. You just need to choose which one fits your lifestyle, what is in your financial reach and how you can be creative about it.”
He explained, “We also wanted to show how attainable this is, by putting on a show to promote sustainable businesses around the region.” The thrift segment of the show highlighted how we can implement the three R’s (reuse, reduce and recycle) into our everyday lives. The show underlined the benefits of choosing second-hand materials that have usually been used only once or twice, and how to make them your own.
The looks in the waste portion of the show were created with materials that ranged from cheesecloth, tarps, e-waste disposal, and unused sanitary pads.
Designer Alessandra Schlums, the creator of the e-waste dress, said, “E-waste is extremely toxic to the environment and builds up fast with new technologies, especially since we always want to buy the newest gadget. So I wanted to show that high fashion does not need to be made from new synthetic fabrics that produce huge amounts of pollution in the factories; it can be produced with recycled materials.”
THE UNION donated their proceeds to The Working Centre, a non-profit organization with the goal of reducing poverty and unemployment in downtown Kitchener. “I’ve been to the Working Centre and I’ve seen how much they do for the community,” Matsuzaki shared. The centre also runs The Green Door, another thrift shop in Kitchener.
THE UNION celebrated the power of choice and how the decisions we make can affect the environment around us. The students in this club continue to strive for the normalization of sustainability, and help to show how we can incorporate it into our everyday lives.