Three new sustainable clothing companies took the stage at Rollins’ fifth annual Rethinking Fashion show. Due to the hard work of the student employees at the Social Impact Hub, this year’s show featured twice as many models and vendors than previous years’ shows.
What started as a social entrepreneurship class project has evolved into much more.
“It started, sort of, as a poster session where students would interview people affiliated with those businesses and report out about how they were ethical fashion,” said Melissa Nelson, administrative assistant of the Social Impact Hub. “Then it kind of morphed over the years into a fashion show.”
Tatianna Fagen (’20) was a model in 2018’s fashion show. She said, “I honestly didn’t know how it was gonna be, but it ended up being a lot more positive of an experience than I anticipated. Everyone was just super supportive and taking pictures. I made friends with literally all of the girls that I modeled with.”
In 2019, Fagen returned to the show as one of the event planners.
“It was a huge difference,” said Fagen. “I felt like I learned a lot about organization, collaboration, and working with others … It definitely gave me a lot of skills I didn’t have before.”
Planning for the fashion show started in late fall. Student employees began by researching ethical and sustainable beauty and fashion companies across the country. About 200 companies are then selected and emailed. Then, model and volunteer recruitment begins.
“This year we’ll have about 75 models. We have hair and makeup stylists, which are mostly student volunteers as well,” said Nelson. Over 100 people, both paid staff and volunteers, are needed to make the event run smoothly.
Like Fagen, Brittany Chaney (‘20) is pulling double duty. Working closely with Fagen, Chaney helped with the show’s educational proponent while also walking the runway.
“We’re in a class that specifically made PechaKucha that will be displayed in the room during the showcase,” said Chaney. “When they asked me to join the show, I was like, ‘Y’all crazy.’ They’re like, ‘No, we need all sizes, all colors, all shapes, all ages.’ And I was like … ‘Okay, fine.’”
Both Fagen’s and Chaney’s prior knowledge has made them excited for this year’s show.
“I think it’s awesome what Rollins is doing to bring awareness to [sustainable fashion],” said Chaney.
Fagen explained the availability of sustainable clothing for students: “There’s a lot more options for college students, kind of like what our style is … There’s one brand called dasFlow which is an athleisure brand, and they’re making a Rollins collection,” said Fagen.
DasFlow is an athleisure wear company dedicated to making clothing items that are comfortable, stylish, and sustainable. Nicolas Krauss, founder of dasFlow, jumped on the opportunity to work with Rollins by making an athleisure wear line dedicated to the college.
“We took the opportunity to create a Rollins collection that’s infused with your colors and your emblem and make it athleisure,” said Krauss. “I feel like we will do really well with the Rollins collection.”
Raw Materials by Melissa, a company that repurposes old clothing into new, one-of-a-kind designs, and A Curated Thrift, a company that thrift shops for clients and sends new outfits via subscription boxes, are two other sustainable fashion companies participating in the show.
“I liked that it was the only fashion event around that [was] considered sustainable, ethical, [and] inclusive,” said Melissa Feezor, founder of Raw Materials.
This will be both designers’ first time at the show. “I was surprised to learn about the program and how wonderful it is that they have programs out there for students,” said Julia Meadows, founder of A Curated Thrift. “I really wanted to participate because I really liked the fact that they had this program.”
Rethinking Fashion will tie their values together by giving back. “One of the brands we’re showcasing [hülya swim] is actually a student-owned and -designed brand, which is amazing.” said Nelson. “Their partner charity is the Coral Restoration Foundation. So all proceeds this year will go to [the Coral Restoration Foundation].”
Since its inception, Rethinking Fashion has aimed to educate about sustainable fashion. Melissa Nelson hopes that the Rollins community keeps a few things in mind.
“Think about your fashion choices before you make them,” said Nelson. “Know that whether you want to spend 50 cents on it at a thrift store or, you know, $500 on this poncho, that there are so many ways for everyone to really be conscious consumers as it relates to fashion and beauty.”