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April 1, 2018

Spring student fashion show features sustainable clothing

Johnson County Community College’s 2018 student fashion show will once again be a feast for the eyes, and this spring, student designers will pay tribute to the growing trend of sustainable clothing. The annual event, held Friday, April 20, at noon and 7 p.m., will showcase the creative designs of 15 Fashion Merchandising and Design students, who are each showing at least five original looks.

Creativity in action

According to Joy Rhodes, Professor and Chair of Fashion Merchandising and Design, the show will feature a range of collections. “All of the looks are tasteful and well-executed, but very different. For instance, some are inspired by the 1970s or by cultural influences, and others take a unique approach to evening wear.”

Rhodes added that since this year’s “City Style” theme is broad and the looks do not have to be season-specific, students have a lot of opportunity to express their creative talents. Most of the students showing this year are participating as part of their capstone project, which is the culmination and practical application of all of their hard work and education before they graduate in May. Collections designed by the capstone students will be judged and critiqued as part of their coursework.

Turning to sustainable style

New this year, the student fashion show will showcase sustainable looks using recycled and repurposed clothing from TurnStyles Thrift Store in Overland Park. As part of a service-learning project that combines community service with academic curriculum, students worked with TurnStyles to design outfits for the store’s windows and displays, and then selected five sustainable looks for the runway.

Partnering with TurnStyles also was a perfect match for the Overland Park store at 9750 W. 87th Street. “We wanted to make sure hip trends were hitting the sales floor and being merchandised,” said Zoran Misic, TurnStyles operations director. “JCCC’s fashion students were great at helping our volunteers and staff know what to look for from the donations coming in.”

TurnStyles is a ministry of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. It takes donations of clothing and household goods and sells them at low prices, with proceeds funding Catholic Charities’ programs and services. Misic said the partnership with JCCC resulted in a refresh of the 8,000-square-foot store as workers learned how to make the merchandise more hip and relevant for consumers.

Responsible fashion choice

In addition to the TurnStyles service-learning project being a win-win for all involved, incorporating sustainable clothing into a wardrobe is a responsible decision, said Kristy Howell, Sustainability Education and Engagement Coordinator with JCCC’s Center for Sustainability. “There are two aspects to sustainable clothing you might want to consider: One is thinking about where our clothes go when we throw them away. The other is looking critically at the materials and how they’re created.”

Howell said inherent in those concerns are issues like:

  • Water shortage – the countries where most of the cotton is produced – China and India – are experiencing drought.
  • Worker pay and conditions – 80 percent of clothing workers are paid less than $3 per day with no worker protections for safety, sickness, etc.
  • Used clothing waste problems – for example, several African countries are taking steps to ban the import of secondhand clothing, and only 10 percent of all clothing is donated.

“We can all make better decisions about reusing and supporting the people who put care into making our clothes,” Howell said. She recommends a website called for more information about this topic.

“From a practical standpoint, we can learn how to repair our clothing rather than throwing it away and purchasing new clothing, and we can learn how to create outfits out of what we have or what we can find secondhand,” Howell added.

‘City Style’ Fashion Show info

If you’re looking to freshen up your closet with recycled clothing or hip, new trends, be sure to check out the “City Style” Fashion Show on Friday, April 20, at noon and 7 p.m. in Yardley Hall. Student tickets are just $5 and can be purchased at the Carlsen Center Box Office or online. All proceeds go toward student scholarship awards.

For practical tips on how to incorporate more sustainability into your life, check out the Center for Sustainability or stop by GEB 157.