Transforming Waste into Wearable Art: Trashion Fashion Show 2016

Trashion Fashion Show 2016 - Photo by Alex Syphers
Trashion Fashion Show 2016 – Photo by Alex Syphers

How much do you throw away in a year?

According to a report by the Department of Environmental Protection, on average each person in CT disposed of around 1,300 pounds of garbage in 2013 alone. That’s a whole lot of trash! Amy Merli, founder and director of Trashion Fashion, has come up with a creative way to transform rubbish into wearable fashion.

Saturday, April 23rd, seventy designs were featured on the runway in Hartford’s City Hall in the sixth annual Trashion Fashion Show. Designers used gum wrappers, plastic shopping bags, magazines, soda can packaging, popcorn bags, and much more to create fashion for both men and women. As the models walked down the runway you could overhear spectators trying to decipher what each garment was made from. As dress made of white circles had me stumped so I leaned in a little closer to see exactly what the quarter-sized dots were. They turned out to be those white freshness seals underneath the cap of your milk or juice carton when you first open it. Someone must have collected those for a year in order to make that dress!

A standing room only crowd packed the first floor of City Hall and surrounded the second floor balcony, applauding models outfitted with skirts of bubble wrap and other packing materials or bodices of smashed beer bottle caps. The designers ranged from students in area high schools to adults.

Trashion Fashion Show 2016 - Photo by Alex Syphers
Trashion Fashion Show 2016 – Photo by Alex Syphers

“For me this show is more than just a show, it’s an chance to start an important conversation about how much waste we produce as a society. I believe that the creative talents that contribute to our shows are the same that will lead to real global solutions.” – Amy Merli

On more than one occasion I found myself saying “I would wear that!” Whether or not I could sit down in the ensemble is questionable, but they were surely fashionable. You couldn’t help but wonder how much some of the dresses weighed or how the designers came up with such clever uses for the items we hardly think twice about chucking into the wastebasket. I walked away wondering what type of design I would come up with. How would I construct clothing or accessories out of items that I use and dispose of on a regular basis? I can tell you that if you see someone walking around Hartford with a dress or hair accessory made from ginger tea packaging, it’s probably me.

Trashion Fashion Show 2016 - Photo by Alex Syphers
Trashion Fashion Show 2016 – Photo by Alex Syphers Design by Chasity Rodriguez from CT River Academy

Trashion Fashion’s mission is to contribute to a global reduction of waste through creative solutions. Amy and her team are looking to improve the way they achieve that mission with the support of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Ignition Grant program. Trashion Fashion is a 2016 Ignition Grant recipient. Ignition Grants give local arts organizations the power to develop revolutionary new ideas as they strive to create unique and innovative solutions that go beyond “business as usual”—delivering exciting, cutting-edge programs that reflect the creative spirit of our community. The Arts Council looks forward to working alongside Trashion Fashion as they update their business plan and strengthen their organization over the next two years. Trashion Fashion is also taking part in the Connecticut Office of the Arts’ Peer Advisor Network, in partnership with the Greater Hartford Arts Council, in order to strengthen their vision and strategic goals.

Trashion Fashion is hosting a Soiree on May 13th. More information is available about the Soiree and the organization at

How will you contribute to a global reduction of waste? Let us know your creative solutions!

Our United Arts Campaign is underway! Here’s your opportunity to make a real impact on the arts in your community.


1 Comment

  1. Great Article! The design in the center pic was created by Annalise Rodriguez and Anastasia Santana from the CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.

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