Ecouture Event Highlights Fashion Made from Recycled Materials

Many eco-friendly designs made their way down the “green” carpet as part of the first Ecouture Fashion Show hosted by the Cornell Environmental Collaborative...

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Photo: Brittney Chew, Sun Staff

By Daniel Zimmerman via the Cornell Daily Sun, 2/22/15

Many unusual and eco-friendly designs — made out of recycled materials or previously used clothing — made their way down the “green” carpet as part of the first Ecouture Fashion Show hosted by the Cornell Environmental Collaborative at the Bear’s Den Friday.

Over 200 people attended the fashion show, where clothes were designed, produced and modeled by students, according to Maria Jiang ’16, co-facilitator for the Cornell Environmental Collaborative.

The Ecouture Fashion Show was the inaugural event for the Cornell Environmental Collaborative — an umbrella organization for environmental groups on campus — after the group was re-named and re-organized from Sustainable Hub.

In addition to the fashion show, the event also included speeches from Prof. Anil Netravali, fiber science and apparel design, who spoke about the becoming more conscious of using environmentally responsible materials and fibers. Lucy Stockton ’17, a member of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, also spoke on poor working conditions for overseas sweatshop workers.

“It was a good start for an event for us,” said Emma Johnston ’16, the other co-facilitator of Cornell Environmental Collaborative. “It brought together a lot of different people … I get excited when there’s sustainability events that aren’t all environmental people, and we have new faces in the room.”

Jiang also said the event was aided in large part by contributions from members of the Ithaca community, including local boutiques who donated clothing and material.

Jiang said she was particularly pleased with the diversity of the event’s attendees, who had variety of interests and came from many different majors. She said a diverse audience was an important component of “bring[ing] together the greater Cornell and Ithaca community.”

According to Jiang, the event brought together faculty members from the fiber science and apparel design department with other departments in the College of Human Ecology, student fashion designers and businesses from the greater Ithaca community.

“The models and designers just put so much into it and they had planned for so long,” Jiang said. “Every day we go to class and we’re wearing these really heavy coats and … there’s not a lot of room there to show off a lot of creativity and design of your own … we got to showcase that [creativity]. Anytime we can bring a little color to the Cornell-Ithaca atmosphere, we’re happy.”

Stockton praised the Cornell Environmental Collaborative for drawing attention to issues of labor action related to fashion, highlighting Cornell’s decision last year to sever ties with JanSport as a major achievement that showed how social pressures and action can make significant change.

“I think that Ecouture is a great step in the right direction,” Stockton said. “However, I believe that there are still greater societal issues we need to address, mainly the capitalist exploitation in the global fashion industry. Ecouture made a major step in bringing these issues to light, and encouraging people to buy responsibly or second-hand.”

Johnston said the Ecouture Fashion Show is only one of several events that the Cornell Environmental Collaborative hopes to organize. She said the group is preparing for Spring Fest, an Earth Day celebration organized along with the sustainability office, an environmentally-oriented career fair and a club showcase on North Campus presenting all of Cornell’s environmentally related groups.

“Going forward, we’re going to work on getting more clubs to buy into the idea of an environmental council, so that we have really strong support,” Johnston said. “I think it can be a really good service but only if all these clubs are interested in it.”

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