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Class project turns into passion project raising awareness about fast fashion

Sonny Davis is the executive director of The Changing Room, a sustainable fashion show created by arts management students. Credit: Courtesy of Sonny Davis

A group of arts management students are trying to make fashion more sustainable with a clothing swap and fashion show this Thursday called The Changing Room Columbus.

Thursday evening at Coffee Underground, a local nonprofit coffee shop, students from the Developing Arts Careers class will see a group project come to life as a real event making a real difference. The event will attempt to raise awareness about fast fashion, the practice of mass producing low-quality clothing to capitalize on the latest trends.

“Fast fashion has created this mindset that you can get the styles that people on red carpets are getting, but for a fraction of the cost,” Sonny Davis, a fourth-year in arts management and executive director of The Changing Room, said. “But that’s the only thing that they think about. They don’t think about where those clothes are coming from, why they’re so cheap and what effect supporting that company has on the world.”

Davis said that fast fashion has major environmental and humanitarian costs, all for clothing that will not last for more than a few wears. According to “The True Cost,” a documentary about fast fashion, the garment industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world.

In order to raise awareness about fast fashion, Davis said the group will provide educational materials about sweatshops, pollution and sustainable clothing practices.

In addition, attendees can participate in a clothing swap, in which they can bring old clothing and trade with each other and the supply of donated clothing that the group has already amassed.

Finally, there will be a fashion show at the event that showcases how students can look their best without supporting fast fashion producers. The organizers and a host of volunteer models from High Street Style, a student-run fashion blog, will wear handpicked outfits featuring thrifted and sustainably sourced garments.

“[The point of the fashion show] was to show people that it’s not just dingy T-shirts, but it can really be some styled and sleek-looking outfits,” Makenzie Knapp, third-year in arts management and director of logistics for the event, said.

According to Knapp, the event will be an opportunity to not only raise awareness about the issues of fast fashion, but to show students how they can make a difference.

In order to make this happen, The Changing Room is partnering with Coffee Underground for the venue, in addition to local vendors and organizations that support their cause, such as Global Gifts and The Zero Waste Syndicate.

The goal of the event is to have 100 attendees, according to Knapp, who said that they might take this project beyond the classroom if the event is a success. Davis and Knapp envision a traveling event that could go to different cities and show people how to dress sustainably.

Davis said this issue should concern everyone because we are all consumers for the garment industry.

“Everyone is affected by this cause, and everyone should have a concern with it,” Davis said. “These are real decisions that people make every day that have a real cost.”

The Changing Room Columbus will take place at Coffee Underground Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. and is open to all students.

 

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