Fashion club hosts sustainable events during Earth Week

Illustration by Liz DeFluri.

Ghailah Nyeanchi, Contributing Writer 

“These events are free, fun and zero-waste ways to spend Earth Week with your friends,” said Megan Le, the president of Eco Fashion. 

Eco Fashion, a student organization that promotes sustainable fashion at VCU, will host a series of eco-friendly fashion events from Thursday, April 18 through Wednesday, April 24, according to its Instagram.

The organization will host a graduation stole decorating session on Thursday, April 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Pollack, according to its Instagram

Although it is not open to all VCU students, it is a chance for senior officers to make non-traditional stoles from scrap fabric, according to Le. 

“It is a more sustainable and unique way to wear stoles and it allows seniors to be more creative,” Le said. 

Eco Fashion will also host an Earth Day style swap on Monday, April 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Pollack, according to its Instagram.

For the Earth Day style swap, participants will drop off the clothes they wish to swap a week before the event, Le said. This way the clothes can be displayed on hangers to give a boutique shopping experience instead of a frenzied swap process.

Eco Fashion will partner with Vintage Threads, another VCU organization, and the Workshop at VCU Libraries on Wednesday, April 24 from 3 to 6 p.m., to host a mending cafe where attendees can use provided embroidery and sewing machines, according to its Instagram

“The Fashion Revolution Garment Workshop on April 24 is a day to honor garment workers — the people that make our clothes,” Le said. 

Fashion Revolution was a non-profit organization founded after the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse, where 1,134 people died in a Bangladeshi factory due to poor safety standards and exploitation, Le said.  

The Rana Plaza collapse is considered the deadliest garment factory disaster in history, according to the VCU Libraries website. 

“We want to use this event to bring awareness to the tragedy and movement for slow fashion,” Le said. 

The workshop will include different stations for different needs, such as hemming, button repair, denim repair and hole repair, according to Le. There will also be mending kits and snacks. 

“We aim to teach students how to take care of and love their clothes through mending and upcycling,” Le said.  

 Slow fashion is a concept of sustainable fashion that encourages buying vintage or secondhand clothing, repairing damaged items and remaking old garments to make them last longer, according to the VCU Libraries website

 The fashion industry has a detrimental impact on our climate, according to Cate Latham, assistant professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising. 

The status quo on handling day-to-day business in the fashion industry has to change to ensure a desirable future, according to Latham. VCU fashion students are helping make that future possible. 

A lot of our students are part of Eco Fashion and other sustainable fashion organizations, Latham said. 

“It’s encouraging to see how excited and passionate they are about being environmentally conscious,” Latham said.  

Latham said she hopes students who are unfamiliar with fashion and its impact on the environment get a chance to know more.

A lot of people think that because they aren’t into fashion, they don’t have to think critically about the impact of their fashion choices, said Renee Lamb, assistant professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising. 

“The fact of the matter is, we all wear clothes,” Lamb said. “We are all consumers and we engage with the industry so we have the power to impact the industry.” 

Fashion is one of the few industries that almost all humans interact with, according to Lamb. Being conscious of fashion choices and what clothes you consume is a great way to take care of the environment. 

“Organizations like Eco Fashion get information out to the student body and bring people into a conversation they might otherwise feel they don’t belong in,” Lamb said. 

Julia Karns, a second-year fashion merchandising student, doesn’t participate in Eco Fashion often, she said. But, she is still interested in promoting eco-friendliness within the fashion industry. 

“However, I do think it’s important to connect with people that have the same interests in sustainability within the industry,” Karns said. 

As a fashion student, it can be hard to refrain from participating in fast fashion, especially if you come from a lower socioeconomic group, according to Karns. 

“Something that I personally do to prevent overconsumption is to challenge myself to be more creative,” Karns said. 

Instead of buying pieces to fit a theme for a party or event, she opts to make her current wardrobe adhere to events or a current trend, Karns said. 

“Just something super simple like cropping a shirt or making it off the shoulder can produce something entirely new without you making a purchase,” Karns said.

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