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From castoff to couture: Trashion show at Vancouver library lands Saturday

Conscious Consumption Sustainability Education Series event at Cascade Park library highlights trashy togs

By Monika Spykerman, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 16, 2024, 6:05am
2 Photos
A participant of the 2023 Trashion Show models her upcycled outfit for onlookers.
A participant of the 2023 Trashion Show models her upcycled outfit for onlookers. (Contributed photo) Photo Gallery

Clark County has a thriving community of designers creating new fashions from used clothes. That’s a good thing, seeing as synthetic fabrics like polyester take hundreds of years to break down in landfills. But what if designers made garments and accessories not only out of discarded clothes but also out of pure trash?

Curious onlookers can see for themselves at the second annual Trashion Show, 2 p.m. Saturday at the Cascade Park Community Library, where local upcyclers can test their ingenuity and explore the outer limits of haute couture.

“It’s a great opportunity to get more engaged with your community and see what kinds of cool things people are coming up with,” said Libs Martin, senior public services librarian at Cascade Park Community. “It’s fun to see how we can use materials and make new things out of them and ways that we can be more conscious in our use of resources.”

The Trashion Show is part of the Conscious Consumption Sustainability Education Series, a collaboration among the city of Vancouver, Clark County Green Neighbors and the Cascade Park Community Library. (The next Conscious Consumption event is Composting with Red Worms, 2 to 3:30 p.m. June 1.)

A makeshift runway will be set up in the library’s Community Room, Martin said, where participants will model their designs. Prizes will be awarded in teen and adult categories and each of the five judges will also bestow a “judge’s choice” award.

Judges include a member of the library’s Teen Council; a representative from event co-sponsor, Clark County Green Neighbors; a representative from Friends of Cascade Park Community Library; and a community member who served as a judge last year. The criteria are use of materials and creativity, Martin said.

“Some people used really creative things like plastic wrap that you’d find in an Amazon package to make a bow,” Martin said. “One person made a dress out of ties.”

Martin was surprised and excited to welcome 69 spectators to last year’s Trashion Show — a fairly large number for the type of event, Martin said. She emphasized that the runway is open to all genders, ages and experience levels, even those who’ve never made so much as a handkerchief. Case in point: Among the 12 trashion designers registered for this year’s show is a contestant who is just 6 years old, Martin said.

If your interest is piqued, Martin has good news: Saturday’s show still has room for more designers. It’s not too late to sign up today or Friday. It doesn’t matter if the garment or accessory you want to share was made some time ago or made at the last minute, Martin said, as long as it’s the participant’s own original design.

“I think sometimes people might feel a little intimidated, but I would love to encourage anyone who is interested to participate, even if you’re not an experienced designer,” Martin said. “Just trying to explore different materials in creating something is really exciting and we’d love to see it.”