Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Recycled Plastics Score Big Hit at New York Fashion Week

When it ended on September 12th, more than 300 new fashion collections had made their debut during the 2013 edition of New York Fashion Week. As usual NYFW was a glamour explosion, however special congratulations go to the Plastics Make it Possible team. Despite heavy competition from all the flash, pop, glitter, glam and over-the-top showmanship of big-name designers,  they drew crowds of people to their clever promotion of recycled plastics in fashion.

Plastics Make it Possible’s vending machine charged one plastics bottle for an original T-shirt.

Plastics Make it Possible’s vending machine charged one plastics bottle for an original T-shirt.

For three days during Fashion Week, New Yorkers and visiting fashionistas walking on 8th Avenue between 57th and 58th Streets could “buy” a limited edition special Fashion Week designer T-shirt made with recycled plastic fiber from the Plastics Make it Possible vending machine.

And what a “buy” it was. The price for one of these good-looking T-shirts? A plastic bottle. Put one in the machine and out came a stylish shirt in a cool little package. The objective was to show how everyday plastic, in this case bottles, could live again as “eco-chic” fashion, and to celebrate the growing role of recycled plastics in the fashion world.

Designer T-shirt made of recycled plastic bottles.

This original designer T-shirt is made from recycled plastic bottles.

Plastics Make it Possible, which is supported by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), partnered with New York designer Allison Parris to create original designs for the T-shirts. Parris is a perfect choice. Besides the great shirt designs, her own collection was “…built around the idea that retaining moral values and being able to wear beautiful, well made clothing are not mutually exclusive actions.” She is one of a growing number of designers who have embraced recycled plastics as one of their new go-to materials for creating stylish clothing and accessories, as well as fostering sustainability.

To create the T-shirt material, plastic bottles are cleaned, melted, and stretched into a fine thread, which is woven into soft, comfortable fabrics. Thanks to the versatility of recycled plastics, these fabrics can be manufactured with a variety of weights and textures to suit a wide range of uses. Both high-end designers and mainstream brands today use recycled plastics to make everything from stylish party dresses to trendy shoes to rugged outdoor jackets.

Original Fashion Week T-shirt designs by Allison Parris.

Original Fashion Week T-shirt designs by Allison Parris are printed in white on black recycled fabric.

The vending machine drew crowds, people of all ages, naturally including many serious fashionistas, and the reaction was genuinely positive about the recycling message. Of the many comments on various websites, the reception to the message was virtually always that recycling plastics to make fashionable clothing is a very cool idea.

For example, online gossip columnist Perez Hilton was on the scene at the vending machine and posted a short video on Instagram with this comment: “The coolest thing ever on the street of #nyc! Encouraging #recycling by giving people a free #nyfw t-shirt by putting in a plastic bottle in this rad dispensing machine! In goes your bottle and out comes your fierce #fashion tee! #newyorkcity #sustainability #green.”

More congratulations to the Plastics Make it Possible folks and ACC: It’s not all that easy to get a pile of exclamation points from a tough critic like Perez Hilton. This was a super job of educating the public about recycling plastics, and it was totally cool!

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