Designers show that fashion can be eco-conscious

Fashion student Stephanie Yiu has found a new way to recycle old plastic bags – by taking 100 of them and turning them into dresses.

Yiu’s plastic bag dresses were a few of the sustainable garments featured in Ryerson’s second eco-conscious fashion show, Revolution 2014, which was held Saturday night at the Sears Atrium. The show featured 12 Toronto designers, including ten Ryerson students.

“We’ve seen a definite trend in eco-conscious fashion in the past few years, like H&M Conscious,” said Natasha Mawji, the second-year fashion design student who produced this year’s show. “We wanted to promote sustainable fashion, and to educate designers and the audience that fashion can be environmentally friendly and doesn’t have to be wasteful.” Urban Revolution 2012, Ryerson’s first eco-conscious fashion show, was created two years ago by fashion students Danielle D’Costa and Olya Ok, with the help of Enactus Ryerson, an entrepreneurial group run out of Ted Rogers School of Management.

After attending that event, Mawji wanted to produce Revolution 2014, and was mentored by D’Costa and Ok. “I knew it was an event worth continuing,” she said.

Designers were given three options to incorporate sustainability into their clothing. One method was to use fabric that isn’t harmful to the environment, which means knowing where it’s sourced and making sure the dye isn’t toxic.

The second option was the zero-waste method, which means all fabric scraps are incorporated in the piece, creating no waste.

It could also mean creating gament that could be “recycled” to be worn more than one way.

A model walks the runway wearing a design by Sienna Sekand, a third-year fashion design student. (Emily Westover / Ryersonian Staff)

A model walks the runway wearing a design by Sienna Sekand, a third-year fashion design student. (Emily Westover/Ryersonian Staff)

Designers like second-year fashion design student Bianca Bellantoni used the third technique, the recycling method. She took old garments from thrift shops and remade them into brand new pieces. “I got most of my fabric from Value Village,” Bellantoni said. “I found the materials I wanted to work with, cut them up and started my own from scratch.” Bellantoni also used the zero-waste method, including all of her fabric scraps in her pieces.

Each designer incorporated a distinct theme into their line. Michael Zoffranieri, a Ryerson student, designed eco-conscious garments that incorporated the theme Russian Queen, by using material like fur and leather.

Proceeds of the event will go toward Enactus Ryerson’s initiative, Project Dago, which sends students to teach villagers in Dago, Kenya, about entrepreneurship.

“We’re creating social entrepreneurs,” Mawjii said. “I thought it would be great to support a cause that can do that internationally.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 5, 2014. 

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