On Friday, April 8, 2022, ReFashion Week NYC culminated its eventful and promotional week of sustainable fashion and the upcycling and recycling of textiles with a fashion show that showcased the future of fashion through a circular lens. The week was full of workshops, virtual and in-person tours from sustainable brands and artisans, like Sanford Biggers Codeswitch artworks and installations that upcycle quilts into art forms, located at the Bronx Museum of Art. There were also panels discussions with influencers, designers, and industry experts on many topics, including sustainability.
The entire week-long event was hosted by donateNYC, helping New Yorkers donate goods to charity with ease and the non-profit Sanitation Foundation. Sponsors included mpb.com, which specializes in recirculating used cameras, a tool ubiquitous in fashion, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal, where the in-person events were held, featuring its fourth annual fashion show since its start in 2019. From April 2, ReFashion Week NYC held a series of events that fostered thought around reducing textile waste. Workshops for repairing garments, thrift markets, and the ever-exciting runway show highlighted fashion designers and stylists intent on reducing textile waste and forging new understandings of fashion.
The designers and stylists had the stage set for them to showcase their most innovative takes on upcycled and recycled garments and materials, envisioning new styles, silhouettes, and messages that reflect the possibilities in the fashion industry. The six stylists used their modern sense of garments and styling to dress models in upcycled pieces. The five fashion designers upcycled material into new fashion pieces with an edge and artistic aesthetics. Hosted by the illustrious and award-winning drag artist Marti Cummings who serenaded the audience with performance covers of music artist Cher’s most memorable song “Believe,” and the Mamma Mia! theme song.
The stylist included Carolina Abreu, Hazel Blachaz3, Leshawn Bridgewater, Patrizia Calvio, Isaiah Dorty, Hahnji Jang, Terell Mccollum, and Valentina Primrose. Talented designers with various design training, from traditional to self-taught, included the award-winning Andrea Diodati, featured on the show All On the Line with Joe Zee, Clifton Percy-Campbell, Mahdiyyah Muhammad, Isalina Sánchez, and Natasha Shangari.
In attendance were New Yorkers and visitors from all over, bringing together fashion’s influential game-changers in sustainability, enthusiasts of waste management and recycling of garments. Celebrity guest and host of the MTV hit show chronicling modern online dating, Catfish’s Nev Schulman was also in attendance, front row.
Also in the front row were the judges of the ReFashion show; fashion environmentalist, educator, and advocate of the policy, Runa Ray, currently working with CFDA; Céline Semaan, founder of the non-profit Slow Factory, the educational institution Open Edu, and host of All of the Above sustainable news show; the Assistant Vice President of sustainability initiatives at the New York City Economic Development Corporation [NYCEDC], Nicole Spina; and co-founder and Creative Director of the textile recycle house FABSCRAP, Camille Tagle.
Each designer and stylist sent two looks down the runway, expressing their sartorial perspectives on upcycled and recycled textiles into new styles. Among the presenting fashion, talents had their models embody the energy and symbolism of the garments on their catwalk. Judges ultimately had to decide on one designer and one stylist that expressed a refined view of their fashion sense, displaying style and sustainability.
Two awards were handed out for the night, honoring those creatives who participated with refined visions. Each award gave away a cash prize and rack space at The Canvas retail space which displays local, sustainable, and independent brands in the New York City area, as well as globally.
The first award went to stylist Terell Mccollum who displayed two all-black looks ornamented with regal, metallic accessories and architecturally styled and structured garments. The designer award went to Mahdiyyah Muhammad, with one outfit fitted for winter-wear in a patch-work multi-color puffer and matching recycled fabric pair of pants, with a structural collar and on the back read “Reach The World But Touch The Neighborhood First.” This phrase would point to the global textile waste reduction epidemic as a local problem, first in managing our consumption and finding sustainable alternatives to production.
Combatting the average of 120 pounds of textile we create per household each year as New Yorkers collectively amounts to 200,000 tons of clothing. ReFashion Week NYC brings awareness to the many facets of fashion unseen in the consumer’s eye and often concealed by corporate interest. Many organizations sponsored the ReFashion Week and the ReFashion show awarding the winners with resources, furthering explorative sustainable practices. Each participant of ReFashion Week used the opportunity to spark ideas that foster innovation in reducing textile waste globally and not just in New York City.