Chandler Trashion Fashion Show Turns Waste Into Wearables

By Annika Cline
Published: Friday, May 20, 2016 - 3:24pm
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(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
Farrah Bode and her mom, Laura, stand with her outfit made of napkins, poster board and plastic.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — and one Chandler resident’s trash is another’s fashion statement. 

The city’s recycling center has asked residents to design fashion items out of trash and recyclables. Then they’ll showcase the designs in a runway show.

“The top is a birthday bag,” said 11-year-old Farrah Bode. “The skirt is a poster board with napkins."

She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up.

Well, she’s a fashion designer now. She created a two-piece outfit, complete with headband, for the Chandler Trashion Fashion Show.

“And then we have a belt that is checkered with poster board that is white,” she explained.

And it’s not the first time she’s turned household items into clothing.

“Well, I was inspired by the unconventional challenge on 'Project Runway,'” she said.

That’s a reality TV show about fashion design. They put the designers in a weird place where you normally wouldn’t make clothing, like a candy store.

Bode loves using unconventional materials — whatever she finds around the house. 

“I like to get birthday bags or plastic bags and I make them into shirts,” she said.

And she’s good; you have to look twice to notice that this outfit is made of napkins and plastic.

“The quality of the garments are really quite amazing,” said Traci Conaway, the city of Chandler recycling coordinator.

This is the second year they’ve done Trashion Fashion, and the hope is it’ll encourage people to think about reusing an item that they’d normally throw away.

“Last year we had, for example, someone that took plastic bags and fused them through ironing and it turned into a fabric,” Conaway said.

She said they’re grabbing on to a trend of “upcycling,” or reusing an object to make something of even higher value. She said if they can get more people to reuse stuff in new ways, it’s less waste for Chandler to sort and ship elsewhere.

“We had the napkins from a Halloween party. We had the birthday bag from past birthdays that we reuse them for,” Bode said, explaining where her materials came from.

Now Bode said she could see her outfit being worn to a birthday party. This is where her mom, Laura, chimed in: “Like a party where you didn’t have to sit down, right? Because you can’t actually sit down in this.”

Perhaps the most practical use for this outfit is as a teaching tool. 

“Recycling is great and what you put in the blue bin — we find that really important,” Conaway said. “But we want people to literally think outside the blue bin and look at ways that they can give something around their house a new purpose.”

Last year’s show included nine designers, and Conaway said this year they’re expecting more than 20 to compete for prizes like gift certificates. Oh, and if you’re wondering who will wear Farrah’s ensemble on the runway, it turns out she models, too. 

The Trashion Fashion Show is at the Chandler Fashion Center on Saturday.

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