Stretch your imagination. If you were trying to create clothes with items from your trash, what would you use? That was the challenge for about 20 local designers whose creations will be on a fashion runway at this Saturday's TRA'shion show at ARTpool, an art co-op that opened four months ago.
M&M packages, Juicy Fruit gum wrappers. Magazine pages. Vintage neckties. Fireworks boxes. Crushed soda cans. Garbage bags. Old place mats. All will be on display, some in haute couture designs that blend the materials and make you barely realize you're looking at stuff that usually ends up in the trash can.
"These items that were tossed and thought of as ugly have been re-created into some incredible pieces of art," said Marina Williams, 23, who opened ARTpool at 919 First Ave. N.
Recycled clothing has turned trendy in recent years. Designers across the globe have come up with recycled-fashion lines. Clothing recycling nonprofit groups and companies have emerged to cut textile waste by collecting and distributing clothes just about everywhere.
And environmentalists have been pushing U.S. consumers, who throw away about 68 pounds of clothing a year each, to wear clothes made from natural materials as a way to reduce global warming.
For the designers who have spent months toiling with hot glue and sewing machines, the TRA'shion show is a way to get across the idea that new clothes don't always have to be brand-new.
All of the designers, who are from Florida, had to come up with a sketch of a dress or a sample of work to enter the show. The clothes will be modeled on the runway Saturday and are available for sale, with all proceeds going to the designers.
Some made pieces that are works of art. Others tried to make items that could actually be worn comfortably.
Emily Eacho, 21, a student at the Ringling College of Art and Design, said her soda can dress is not likely something that could be worn long term. The skirt alone weighs about 15 pounds.
To make the dress, Eacho got soda cans in the colors she wanted. Then she put the cans on the ground sideways, placed a board on top of them and ran over them with her car. The flat cans are woven with wire in a colorful design of red, green, orange blue and silver. The bodice has a similar design with soda can box details. Jewelry made of soda can tabs completes the outfit.
"These are art pieces," Eacho said. "It's definitely more of the idea of recycling, to try to give that message to people that you really should wear recycled clothes. All the clothes being thrown away could be recycled."
In a tiny garage off a back alley in the Old Northeast neighborhood, Vinni Lacava has spent countless hours these past few months putting together six outfits for the show. Lacava has woven Publix garbage bags into a shift edged with hot pink lace trim. She has folded pages from an Allure magazine into a ruffle skirt that will go with a corset made from the same magazine and spray-painted black. She sewed a lime green and white sheet into an A-line dress with butterfly appliques. She made another dress out of cream-colored duct tape and another out of old white T-shirts.
She says her outfits, except for the garbage bag dress, are definitely wearable.
"That's my whole point of making clothes, making things out of stuff that's already there, reusing what you have," said Lacava, a 27-year-old student at St. Petersburg College. "When I make something, I don't want people to look at it and say, 'That looks cool.' I want them to say, 'Oh, I want one of those.' "
Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8640.