When fashion goes green

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva December 09,2017 - 10:57 PM

Bagging four out of five special awards in a runway battle, the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu won this year’s Aboitiz Green Fashion Revolution (GFR) 2017 held at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall last November 25 where flour bags, discarded clothing, and salvaged wood were used to create fashionable clothes, shoes and bags.(CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Aboitiz GFR 2017

What can one do with worn-out clothing, discarded flour bags, and salvaged wood?

Not much for most people. But for the creative and enterprising teams who competed in the recently concluded Aboitiz Green Fashion Revolution (GFR) 2017 in Cebu, these materials are more than just waste.

With the right mindset, what is trash to others can be turned into something beautiful such as eco-friendly clothes, handbags, and even shoes.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu emerged victorious in this year’s competition after sweeping four out of five special awards during the runway battle held at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall last Nov. 25.

According to graduating Product Design student Lira Princess Cadorna, one of the designers for the winning collection, their victory was a form of “redemption” for the state university after having skipped last year’s tilt.

“This year is our redemption from not being able to join last year and we are bringing back the champion trophy to our school,” the 19-year-old designer said in an interview.

The school won second runner-up and overall champion in 2015 and 2014, respectively.

This year, UP Cebu bested four other participating schools in the environmental fashion tilt with special awards for Best Clothing Design, Best Accessories Design, Best Bag Design, and Best Footwear Design.

UP Cebu’s collection dubbed as “Sufrimiento” was inspired by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo’s pain and suffering, and was anchored on this year’s theme: “Life Flourishing on Land and in Water.”

“Frida is one of the people who is most notable for being able to rise above her pain and suffering. Mother Earth is in pain and is suffering as well, but she can also rise from her own suffering if we upcycle and recycle all our waste,” Cadorna explained.

Sufrimiento featured worn -out clothes turned into innovative vests and dresses while several blocks of wood were turned into footwear.

“We have a lot of fast fashion pieces here that are usually just shoved to the back of the closet or are thrown away completely, all of which add waste to the environment,” Cadorna said.

Cadorna shared that what kept her motivated to join the GFR was her drive to show people what can be achieved by upcycling or the process of creative reuse.

“We made wonderful clothes out of things we have already neglected,” said the young fashion designer who is also currently doing a thesis on battling fast fashion through pineapple fiber weaving.

Environmental impact

The creative talents from the five competing schools used a total of 177 kilograms of repurposed waste material from various Aboitiz business units.
Approximately 1,600 kilograms of waste material have been repurposed for the Aboitiz GFR since it began in 2011.

According to environmental group Greenpeace, “every piece of clothing we buy has had an impact on our planet before we even bring it home.”

Two billion pairs of jeans are produced every year and a typical pair takes 7,000 liters of water to produce. For a t-shirt, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one—which is the same amount of water an average person drinks over the course of 900 days.

Greenpeace also pointed out the dyeing process of which 1.7 million tons of various chemicals are used, including hazardous kinds such as PFCs (Perfluorinated chemicals) that leave a permanent impact on the environment.

Lastly, an estimated 400 billion square meters of textiles are produced annually, 60 billion square meters of which are left on the cutting room floor.

Each year, over 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide and after its short lifespan, 75 percent end up in landfills or incinerated. Only the remaining quarter will be recycled.

Cadorna said one cannot necessarily save the environment by taking drastic steps.

“My advice is to start small. It’s not like you should stop using plastic altogether and start using paper. It doesn’t work like that. You have to research first. Look at what you should do, the pros and cons, as well as alternatives,” she added.

She pointed out that without research, people who think they are doing the environment a favor may end up doing more harm to it instead.

The participation of UP Cebu and the four other schools, which is the most number of competitors in the GFR’s six-year history, is a testament that even fashion competitions are taking a step toward the right direction.

First-timer Fashion Institute of the Philippines (FIP) Cebu was first runner-up, followed by Cebu Technological University (CTU) Argao, and St. Theresa’s College, whose representatives are also newcomers.

Meanwhile, the Cebu Institute of Technology University (CIT-U) bagged the People’s Choice Award.

The GFR, which was first staged in Cebu and Manila in 2012 and 2016, respectively, has been challenging students to create clothing, footwear, and accessories that make use of recycled materials to highlight the importance of the 3Rs—Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

It is an initiative under the Aboitiz Group’s Race to Reduce 2.0 Program that promotes creative recycling of waste materials after their useful life.

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