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LBCC president Mike Munoz shopping at the LBCC Fashion Club pop-up shop on 10 May, 2022. The shop saw students, faculty and passerby’s stop by to browse the wares. (Photo by Sean Davis)

The Long Beach City College Fashion Club sold their student-designed upcycled wares outside the Viking Bakery Tuesday and Wednesday morning, while promoting values of sustainability in fashion design, drawing passersby, and even LBCC President Mike Munoz dropped in to help fund the club. 

The pop-up was open Tuesday, May 10, and Wednesday, May 11, outside the Viking Bakery from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Totebags for sale at the Fashion Club pop-up on 10 May, 2022 were designed and printed by students in the Fashion Promotion class. The bags were made with 100% organic cotton, which uses significantly less water and energy than synthetic textiles. (Photo by Sean Davis)

Put together by the Fashion Club and featuring the designs and sewing work by students in the Fashion Promotion class, the pop-up shop’s wares were influenced by the chosen theme of reuse and upcycling, the practice of repurposing used materials to create something else of high quality.

“We collectively chose the theme to support sustainability practices and we ran with ‘Boro’ once we researched the process and materials,” said Mindy Ngo, Fashion Club member.

Boro is a centuries-old Japanese textile practice of using old, used materials to create new, patchwork designs and products.

The LBCC Fashion Club pop-up shop produced Boro pouches using recycled and reused materials, fitting their sustainability theme. The shop featured goods produced by student club members sold on 10 May, 2022. (Photo by Sean Davis)

However, there are positives and negatives to a fashion designer reusing existing materials.

“I find it liberating, especially personally finishing products that are unique in their own way,” Ngo said. “But it can be somewhat constraining too, since (the material) may not be my ideal choice. It’s nice to have variety and choices.” 

“And ‘Boro’ is very niche, but it’s been done for hundreds and hundreds of years,”  said Maria Moreira, another Fashion Club member.

The LBCC Fashion Club offered products from pins to tote bags, dog bandanas to Boro pouches at their pop-up shop on 10 May, 2022. Items were produced using upcycled or reused materials. (Photo by Sean Davis)

With Ernie the Earth, a student-designed informal mascot for the pop-up featured throughout the shop, issues of environmental responsibility can be deeply tied to how fashion design is produced.

“Students are showing interest in sustainable fashion,” Bryant said, “Hemp fabric is coming back. We discuss synthetic materials, which are produced using fossil fuels, versus organic material.”

“We do what we can, but there are sometimes challenges with organic materials, like recycled cotton,” said Armando Avelar, a Fashion Club member, recounting issues using traditional screen printing on recycled cotton tote bags.

Student creations using upcycled materials filled the tables of the LBCC Fashion Club pop-up shop on 10 May, 2022. The theme of the shop was sustainability and resued materials. (Sean Davis)

But different technologies and techniques are making more sustainable approaches to fashion easier.

“We got a Strong Workforce grant for a direct to garment printer, which is much more sustainable and lets us print these totes with student designs,” Bryant said.

Even fashion isn’t exempt from having to rethink its practices as climate change advances and planetary health falters.

“Textile and water waste is a serious issue. The idea of repurposing materials helps a lot (to fix that),” Moreira said.

For a culture used to easy and cheap clothing options, some are beginning to question the way fashion is made.

“We are seeing that idea surfacing off social media a lot now. Research brands to see what they produce, how they produce it, and how they treat their workers,” Moreira said.

“It’s about fast fashion versus slow fashion,” Bryant agreed.

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