Fri March 4, 2011


Columbia College teaches sustainable fashion

Some local design students are trying to change the face of fashion with sustainable practices.

Students at Columbia College are learning how to design clothing without throwing away excess fabric. And they hope to inspire others to make "green" more than just a color choice in a wardrobe.

Piles and piles of clothing -- two-and-a-half tons to be exact -- has all been discarded and donated by USAgain, a company that collects old clothes and resells what's still useful. The clothes are becoming part of a sculpture that's meant to send an immediate message.

"I definitely hope that by working with such an enormous amount of clothing that it will get people thinking about how much textile waste there is. In New York City, for example, it accounts for six percent of the waste stream," Derick Melander, guest artist, said.

Students who are helping with the installation say the process is eye-opening.

"I think it's really clear that it shows waste in the fashion program. Just the amount of clothing we've collected is pretty incredible and his sculpture really visualizes that," Caroline Ross, Columbia College student, said.

"Going through your day, just think of how much just garbage you produce along the way just trying to get through your day and it's all about faster, faster, faster, more, more, more in our society. I think people are ready for a change," Tiffani Priday, Columbia College student, said.

The exhibit will also showcase fashion using sustainable techniques -- like a vest made from old sandals or a shirt's pattern that shows every piece of fabric cut was used to create the garment.

Those are the same techniques design students are learning. Assistant professor Arti Sandhu is the brains behind both the class and the exhibit. She wanted to marry the concepts of fashion and zero waste.

"Waste is so much a part of our lives. It's a part of how we live in this society," Sandhu said. "I hope people can really reflect on the need for clothing and the need for so much."

The exhibit Zero Waste: Fashion Re-Patterned runs through April 16th at Columbia College's Art and Design Gallery on South Wabash. Admission is free.

See the photos here.

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