The future of fashion walks the new High Bridge

Designer: Martin Polanco http://martinpolanco.com

Top­most image: designs by Tom Sohung. Above, designs by Mar­t­in Polan­co. Pho­tos through­out: Kun­tian Yu

A glimpse of the High Bridge sug­gests it was fat­ed to become a fash­ion run­way one day. The his­toric bridge was built in 1848 to bring water from the Bronx to Man­hat­tan via Cro­ton Aque­duct, which was mod­eled after the great aque­ducts of the Roman Empire.

Ear­ly in August, a group of tal­ent­ed design­ers came togeth­er for an eco-fash­ion show on the new­ly reopened bridge, and proved fash­ion can be sus­tain­able and fab­u­lous at the same time. Over one hun­dred mod­els sashayed down the bridge from the end of Bronx side all the way to the Man­hat­tan side. 

Fash­ion mag­a­zi­nes tell us it won’t do to wear a look from last year. And so our urge to stay on top of trends legit­imizes a Sat­ur­day-night “get­away” trip to bou­tiques and fast-fash­ion stores to splurge on ‘must-have’ clothes for fall.

But there’s a cost beyond our wal­lets. While we keep our wardrobes updat­ed, an aver­age US cit­i­zen throws away 70 pounds of cloth­ing or oth­er tex­tiles in a year, and only 15% of them get recy­cled, which means 85% (21 bil­lion pounds of clothes) ends up in land­fill. Post-con­sumer tex­tile waste (PCTW) accounts for 5% of all munic­i­pal solid waste gen­er­at­ed in the US.

With mas­sive glob­al pro­duc­tion lines churn­ing away on prod­ucts we’re encour­aged to view as dis­pos­able, the ever-chang­ing fash­ion indus­try seems to be every­thing oppo­site to the idea of sus­tain­abil­i­ty. If you have ever tried cal­cu­lat­ing your own ener­gy con­sump­tion on Ener­gy We Need built by Alexan­der Franzten, you’ll know how much ener­gy is wast­ed in toss­ing out per­fect­ly good clothes.

Again­st the­se habits, Iliana Quan­der and Gina Costan­za launched the Eco­Fash­ion Show; Quan­der is an inde­pen­dent design­er of women’s cloth­ing based in New York City, and Costan­za is a fash­ion styl­ist for tele­vi­sion.

High Bridge in 1900 (Wikipedia)

High Bridge in 1900 (Wikipedia)

The first Eco­Fash­ion Show was held in the near­by High­bridge Park four years ago, before the bridge ren­o­va­tion was com­plete. When the bridge reopened, the orga­niz­ers took the chance to have mod­els walk all the way from the Bronx side, not just a short cat­walk in the park. The cross­ing high over the Harlem River is over a quar­ter-mile in length.

Quan­der is a self-taught design­er who start­ed sewing at sev­en, and who stud­ied phi­los­o­phy and soci­ol­o­gy rather than fash­ion design in school. Her goal is func­tion­al, beau­ti­ful clothes.

In the fash­ion indus­try, most of the design­ers think that some­thing func­tion­al is too gim­micky. Then I met one of the founders of the Smarter* Cloth­ing project, a teacher at Par­sons. I became more aware of sus­tain­abil­i­ty as a con­cept and dis­ci­pline, which grad­u­al­ly gave me the per­mis­sion to not care about what oth­ers in the fash­ion indus­try think. This is what I’m doing.”

See Quander’s designs at her site, and more images from the show below:

Designer: Sarah Bacchus https://www.34-24-36.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Design­er: Sarah Bac­chus

Designer: Sarah Bacchus https://www.34-24-36.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html

Design­er: Sarah Bac­chus