Fashion students transform everyday trash to artistic masterpieces

Fashion student’s displays in the library to highlight the importance of upcycling.

This past month, students in Fashion Illustration I classes have worked to create outfits out of discarded materials for mannequin displays in the library. The project, designed by Fashion Illustration Teacher Tracey Salvatore, aims to teach students about the alternate uses of trash and the importance of sustainable fashion. 

“Fashion does have an impact on the environment and is actually the second pollutant after oil and gas,” Salvatore said. 

Salvatore developed the idea for this project after viewing the exhibit at the Silk Museum in Paterson. 

“They had a similar project that wasn’t so much all upcycle or garbage, but it was these mannequins with outfits made out of objects and garbage,” Salvatore said. “It inspired me to start thinking that way.”

Students were assigned one of the elements of nature: fire, Earth, water or air. They worked in groups to first come up with a backstory for their mannequin and then consider what kind of outfit he or she would need according to their lifestyle. 

“There was a team for the top and bottom of the outfit, as well as a team for the hair, accessories and shoes,” Salvatore said. “They all had to work together to make it cohesive.”

Through the project, students learned about sustainability and the environment. The project encouraged them to raise questions about the future and what will happen to Earth in one hundred years. 

“I think they understand more about the importance of where their fashion comes from,” Salvatore said. 

When shopping, she wants her students to consider whether the companies they purchase from are responsible. On a daily basis, she hopes they will make an effort to produce less waste and be aware of the items they choose to discard. 

“By displaying the mannequins in the school, I hope to promote conversations about sustainable fashion in other students,” Salvatore said.