Environmentally-friendly. Cheap. Trashy.
For four School of Art and Design students, these were the defining characteristics of a clothing line they designed for Perspectives III, a class on integrating technology and the environment in artistic ways.
Using only materials they found in trash cans around campus, the four sophomores — Vince Roberts, Kristina Kassem, Laura Thompson and Maggie Baczewski — created a clothing line aptly named “Trashy,” meant to make a statement about the amount of trash society goes through.
Clothes were constructed entirely from garbage pieces tied, glued and sewn together. It took the students anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to create the pieces.
One of the female outfits included of a skirt made from a yellow backpack, a shirt made out of a gold tablecloth, and a hat made out of a broken bird Christmas ornament. For a men’s outfit, a blue tarp was used to construct pants, a shower curtain and food packaging were pieced together to make a vest and part of a gold tablecloth was used for a tie.
Other garments were made with plastic bags, briefcases, life jackets, shower curtains, cardboard and closet organizers.
“All garments are completely made start to finish with materials found in or around trash cans on campus, a.k.a. garbage,” Roberts said. “Absolutely no money was spent in the creation of any of the clothes.”
While students discarded these items because they had worn out their intended use, to the “Trashy” team, the garbage was a crucial part of “contemporary and ready to wear garments,” Roberts said. Through the process of designing the apparel, the discarded items were transformed so that the clothes do not even resemble the “trash” materials they were made from.
For Roberts, the “Trashy” clothing line was more than just a class project.
“This is an attempt to show society that creativity and recycling can mix in very modern and interesting ways,” he said.
Roberts said the idea to use garbage to construct clothing was meant to address waste and overflowing landfills.
“Ann Arbor’s ‘smallest’ closed landfill holds 820,000 tons of garbage,” he said. “If we can do our part to recover and recycle items that would otherwise end up in said landfill, then we can create clothes that are not only wearable, but environmentally friendly.”
Baczewski said she hopes the project inspires students to be creative and think about ways to reuse items they own.
However, Baczewski said she was worried that the message might be interpreted a different way.
“We want to say, ‘Look at what you can do with what you already have’ but I thought it might come off as, ’Look at what you need to buy,’ ” she said.
While the class is over, the students said they hope to expand the line and showcase the outfits in a fashion show in the spring.
“I think when students see what we’ve done with trash they will be inspired to do something creative with what they find around them,” Baczewski said. “Anyone can be creative and it’s really fun when someone compliments you on your outfit to say, ‘Thanks! I made it out of my old shower curtain!’ ”