GREEN’s Trashion Show brings a new perspective to the fashion rage on campus

April 13, 2024

Design by Grace Nuri

Would you dumpster dive for $200? That’s the cash prize up for grabs at Georgetown’s first Trashion Show, premiering on April 21 at 6 p.m. Organized by GREEN’s Zero Waste Team, the show aims to promote sustainability on campus by creating outfits from trash and encouraging students to think more critically about how they can reuse materials. 

“I just feel like people are used to a disposable culture of one-time use and then [are] like, ‘I’m gonna throw it away.’ I wanted people to rethink about how they’re using objects, and that maybe you can use it in more than one way,” team lead Makenna Dovel (CAS ’27) said.

As someone with a love for thrifting, Dovel was inspired by MIT’s 2018 take on a trash-based fashion show to combine her enthusiasm for the arts with her passion for sustainability. “It’s not to say fashion and sustainability are separate,” she said. But people in the arts world can be hyper-focused on their practice, rather than the additional social impact. “[The Trashion Show is] like meshing two worlds together to get people that aren’t usually into the environment,” Dovel concluded.

The show is an opportunity for students to explore the boundaries of fashion. Another organizer, Grace McManus (CAS ’26), learned to rethink fashion through YouTube channels like bestdressed and hopes this experience will do the same for fellow students.

Unlike some mainstream climate narratives such as the Doomsday Clock and apocalyptic news delivery, the Trashion Show is not intended to be a scare tactic. The team planned to present a solutions-focused perspective, rather than highlight the doom and gloom of humanity’s unsustainable choices. “It’s to make them be a little more conscious about it, and curious,” Dovel said. “It’s not an event to make you sad. It’s an event to make you hopeful for the future.”

The runway is meant to evoke two streams of thought. “One aspect is the fashion, think about your clothing, about what you’re buying. And then the other aspect is think about how much waste you’re generating,” Katie Merrill (CAS ’27), another organizer, added.

Various student groups, such as Georgetown REUSE, will be tabling in Copley Formal Lounge—the event venue—to share sustainable waste management solutions like purchasing secondhand clothing. Slow Food Georgetown will be providing refreshments, but with a twist: the club will place a clear bowl with all the trash that was the side product of the food-making process—i.e. the plastic packaging on produce—next to the dishes to draw the audience’s attention to food waste. 

Copley Formal will also be decorated with donated artwork. “The sculpture class is going to donate their recycled seats they made,” Dovel said. The centerpiece, on loan from the GW Innovation Center, will be an enormous dress made of recycled plastic bottles created by Miami-based costume designer Celia Ledón.

The myriad of collaborations, however, only complement the runway, which will showcase entirely student-made designs borne in the Maker Hub from pieces of trash collected around campus. 

One designer, Katherine Wijenaike-Bogle (CAS ’25), is exploring the intersection of beauty, trash, and nature in her work. “I was looking at a piece of waste that I produce every day, which is disposable contact lenses,” she said. “One, I looked at it and thought it was actually a beautiful piece of plastic. And then I was also inspired by biophilic design, or design that is inspired by nature. When you manipulate [the lenses] a little bit, you can cut them into a scale design so that it looks like chain mail or the scales of the reptile. So, I thought it would be cool to make something like that, something that looks organic but is completely inorganic.”

For Wikenaike-Bogle, the best part of the process has been the push she’s received to reevaluate what she considers trash in her own life. “I think that everyone who comes to the Trashion Show will have a similar experience, and consider what we throw away and what trash can be,” she said. “[The show] is a way to confront these issues in a way that is uplifting and constructive.”

Genevieve Jobson (CAS ’26), along with organizing and modeling, is designing an ’80s-themed prom dress out of coffee sleeves, most of which were amassed via collection boxes at Corp locations. 

For Jobson, her dress exemplifies how we use things we do not always need. “Sometimes you do need the coffee sleeve to protect your hand because it’s hot, but other times it is kind of unnecessary,” she said. She hopes to motivate action: “People will throw out the whole cup in the trash, when it is really easy to take off the sleeve and put it in the recycling next to it.”

Affordability in sustainability is the underlying question of this show made by and for college students. It is a common misconception that sustainability is prohibitively expensive. “Many people are used to going to SHEIN and buying five tops that they are going to wear twice,” Dovel said, citing their low quality and price. “They don’t really think about where their clothing is coming from, where it goes.” Ultimately, the goal of the event is to inspire attendees to be more conscious of their purchasing choices.

As a teaser, the team is bringing Ledón to campus on April 20 at 4:30 p.m. in White Gravenor 208, where the artist will discuss her creative experiences and create a piece from discarded materials live. Designers and organizers alike will exhibit reusability. “I think that the Trashion Show is going to do just that and show a ton of people how you can use different clothing items—like a skirt can be a top, trash can be art, can be fashion,” McManus said. Trash can most definitely be fashion—as long as one fashions it so.

The GU Trashion Show will take place on April 21 at 6 p.m. in Copley Formal Lounge. Tickets can be purchased on CampusGroups for $5.

Rhea Banerjee
Rhea is a Leisure Assistant Editor and a sophomore in the SFS majoring in Business & Global Affairs, minoring in Justice & Peace Studies. She’s from Chicago, IL and loves to listen to a variety of music genres, try new foods, and obsess over fantasy novels and their film/TV adaptions.

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