Recycled Runway a hit with fashion-conscious American teens

paper bag dress

This week will see the fifth annual Recycled Runway event take place at Boulder Theatre in Colorado. Part of a workshop organised by CommonThreads, an organisation dedicated to helping the local community repurpose their clothing and make fashion choices that look as good as they are eco-conscious, it focuses on taking what people normally throw away, like paper bags, and with a bit of creative known-how, turning it into wearable art.

Applicants are middle and high school students, who work with mentors to source their material, clean it and turn their ideas into reality. Given that many of the students have next to no actual design experience there is a lot of learning on the job, which makes the whole process very exciting.

Creations at this show will include several dresses – a ballgown hemmed with fishing line and packaging material, a collection made from brown paper bags that have been printed with traditional African designs by a Burundi student, and even one constructed from an old trampoline mat! In the past entrants have worked with plastic cups and even sweet wrappers, so clearly one of the hardest tasks must be rooting around in bins to find just the right piece of rubbish to enhance an outfit.

The resulting fashion show is judged by local artists and designers, so students hoping to pursue a career in either the fashion or design industries will find the experience and opportunity to make connections invaluable. And the emphasis on sustainability can’t hurt either!

Last year a Kickstarter project to raise funds for marketing and venue hire amply exceeded its target, and the project has begun receiving both national and international exposure, suggesting that it will only get bigger and better over the next few years. And many of the students showing off their garments on the catwalk could be among the big names of the future.