Women-led organization promotes sustainable fashion

The Eco Fashion group pictured at a sustainable fashion event in Monroe Park. Photo courtesy of Megan Le

Peggy StansberyStaff Writer

People can be both fashionable and sustainable, said Eco Fashion President Megan Le. 

Eco Fashion, a women-led student organization at VCU, promotes sustainable fashion and encourages students to shop second hand, reuse and recirculate their clothing, according to Le. 

Fast fashion prices are the same as thrift store prices,” Le said. “You just have to realize that it’s all marketing and you just have to think deeply about your shopping choices. It’s doing things on a personal level to help combat consumerism and overconsumption.” 

The club has been growing “rapidly” recently and gaining a “bigger presence” on campus, Le said.

Le has noticed more students and clubs selling their clothes in Monroe Park and at the Compass to fundraise or get rid of clothes instead of “throwing it away,” she said. 

Eco Fashion’s impact has expanded beyond VCU to the rest of the city as well, according to Le. Eco Fashion will be a part of Richmond’s first sustainable fashion weekend, which will occur the weekend after Earth Day. 

“That’s just amazing because what started out as a little club at a little university spread its influence to the rest of the city,” Le said. “This year, Eco fashion has made one of its biggest impacts. So I’m really proud of the club for that.”

Le hopes Eco Fashion at VCU can “influence” other universities to start this club, she said. Le believes more universities should have sustainable clubs specifically focused on fashion, she said. 

“It’s college students and young people that are going to be the change that we need,” Le said. 

Eco Fashion wants to bring the club to students earlier in the education system as well, starting as young as elementary schools so kids “can grow up caring,” Le said. 

As a women-led club, and the fact the “fashion industry itself is women-led,” Le hopes more attention can be brought to the garment workers in other countries making clothing, she said. She hopes spreading awareness for sustainable fashion helps shed light on their working conditions and those women’s human rights.

“I hope that things change for women in this industry,” Le said. “But women care for women, and so it’s our responsibility to bring attention to that.”

Dyanna Gamarro, Eco Fashion’s vice president, said it’s “wonderful” being a part of a women-led organization.

Eco Fashion has a “really good group of women” who are respectful, kind and get “anything that needs to get done, done,” Gamarro said. 

Gamarro hopes people can learn more about sustainability through the club and begin to make conscious efforts in regards to their shopping and consumption, she said. 

“We never want to make anybody feel bad for the choices that they have made because everybody has shopped fast fashion,” Gamarro said. “There is no shame in that, but we do want people to make conscious decisions moving forward and try to avoid doing that and find other ways that they can still get what they want but in a more conscious way.” 

Gamarro wants Eco Fashion to extend its reach past VCU and get involved in policy change around sustainable fashion by writing letters to Congress, she said. 

“Just figuring out ways where we could get our foot in the door where we can actually make an impact past what we have right now,” Gamarro said. “Not saying that this isn’t enough, but we do want to expand past and make an impact.”

Eco Fashion spreads awareness on how “it’s really easy” for people to do their part, said Meghna Vemuri, member of Eco Fashion’s programming committee. 

“Especially in Richmond since we have access to so many thrift stores, second-hand stores and consignment stores,” Vemuri said. “It’s much easier in a city like this to learn how to shop sustainably.”

Vemuri hopes that in the future, Eco Fashion can partner with more people in Richmond and create connections in other cities, she said. 

“We went to New York this past weekend and it would have been really cool to have connections with sustainability organizations there,” Vemuri said.

Vemuri said it’s “great” to be a part of a women-led organization. Le is “very organized,” “does everything so well” and keeps the club going with all its events, she said.

Eco Fashion being women-led shows that if a woman wants to start an organization, they should, Vemuri said. 

It’s really nice that we have an organization like that here at VCU. It’s just girl power,” Vemuri said.

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