As upbeat music blared, models were announced by name as they took the catwalk, often greeted with the sound of applause.
But this certainly wasn’t your typical fashion show, and these were no average models. Approximately a dozen local teenagers participated in the annual young adult department’s “Trash’n Show, Fashion Show.” There’s only one catch for the models who sign up — their costumes must be made of only recycled and repurposed materials.
“We really love the theme this year — the future is now — because it’s such an important thing to think about when we’re talking about upcycled fashion,” said Vera Elwood, Hays Public Library’s young adult department librarian. “If the current trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills. That is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.”
All costumes were made from leftover craft materials from past library activities, personal waste items brought by library staff members, and upcycled goods purchased at community thrift stores.
The goal is to encourage the teens to consider how items can be reused or recycled instead of thrown away, but the event also encourages creative thinking, Elwood said. This year’s futuristic theme apparently had the teenagers’ imaginations running wild as they imagined their own post-apocalyptic fantasies.
One model’s narrative told how she was the lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse, while another wrote about a world where only Pokemon characters — depicted in a popular Japanese cartoon — survive.
They also dressed the part, with costumes including long ears or horns, wings, feathers, hats, and anything else the teenagers could dream up.
First-place winner in the fashion show was Jonah Rupe, whose costume included an upcycled black umbrella and formal tie purchased at a local thrift store. In keeping with the theme, the top three winners were given environmentally friendly prizes.
“A parachute hammock!” Rupe exclaimed when asked what he got for winning. “I was the lucky winner.”
Thirteen-year-old Mary Katherine Bollig took second place, receiving a reusable water bottle for her costume, which included duct tape, fabric scraps and items that had been thrown away, she said.
The ensemble took her about two hours to create.
“I already planned the design in my head and everything. I was even going along with it, too,” she said.
Elwood’s own costume featured an elaborate gold, spiked collar, headdress and hoop skirts fashioned out of upcycled plumbing insulation and hula hoops. Three people worked on her dress when time allowed during the course of a few weeks, she said.
“It was so much fun,” Elwood said of the event. “And a lot of the ideas were totally their own, which is awesome.”