The road to Trashion

Written by Chi Ching Chow

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As June 1st edges closer and closer, designers and organisers alike are whirling-about in preparation of RCHK’s 8th ever Trashion event. Whether they are securing delicate papier-mâchés to the back of dresses or finalising hundreds of ticket sales, there is no question of the Trashion team’s hard work and dedication.

Trashion is an annual charity fashion show aiming to create a new dimension to recycling and to raise awareness of eco-fashion. The connection between the fashion industry and global environmental issues is very real though often overlooked.

“The rise of fast fashion and brands promoting products that are worn very little contributes to the problem of overflowing landfills and environmental issues,” Theodore Chow, the Head of Media for the event, stated, “An example would be the microbead contamination in oceans - the focus of this year’s Trashion.”

What originally started as an after-school sewing club seven years ago has gradually matured into a student-led fashion show with participants all over Hong Kong. Coco Li, the Head of Designers, explained that the increase in student-freedom makes the show more flexible, at the same time allowing for greater outreach to different organisations all over Hong Kong. “Over the years, we’ve been growing our sponsorships so that we’re able to connect with even more brands, such as LUSH, Noirstone, Astrid Wylde,” she says. “This allows us to spread our message throughout the greater Hong Kong.”

However, the success of Trashion does not come easily. In our interview last week, Chow expressed the difficulty of working with a team where everyone had their own ideas. “We have to reach a compromise, and getting there isn’t always the easiest thing for us,” he revealed. “However, it is a double-edged sword, because it’s good that we have so many ideas and we’re so passionate about making this event better.”

Li, on the other hand, finds it challenging to work with designers both in-school and outside-school. She is in charge of making sure designers are on track with their creative process, but as an IB Diploma student with mountains of assessments each month and the impending stress of college applications, it has proven to be a difficult task. “We’re all students and we all have a busy schedule. It’s hard for me to keep up with [the designers’] progress, to make sure that the materials they use are upcycled and that they always introduce new ideas to their designs.”

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However, time management is not something Coco struggles with alone. Sabrina Wu and Moses Lee, two Year 12 designers, have expressed the difficulty of working as a designer alongside their other commitments. In fact, when asked for her advice for future designers, Wu responded swiftly, “Don’t do it during DP.”

According to Wu, she lost a couple of valuable months due to the separation of her initial group. “I had to think of a new theme and designs, and then find new models. That took a lot of time,” she admitted, “but watching my designs come to life... it felt very rewarding and it was all worth it in the end.”

Lee added, “When you receive notice that you have been accepted as a designer, you should start immediately. Ten months seem a lot, but it actually isn’t. There’s always going to be a delay. We allocate our lunch-times and periods of time after school so that we can focus.” Previously, the pair had remained at school till 7:30 pm to work on their designs.

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Wu, Lee and Spring Cheng, another Year 12 student, are the designers for their collection, The Golden Empire, themed around mythical animals in China. Their four designs consist of the peacock, goldfish, tiger and dragon - animals representative of wealth and prosperity.

“My personal favourite is the peacock. We disassembled an umbrella and used the canopy as the dress,” Wu described. “We also used paper-mache for the top, which consists of newspaper and glue.”

Aside from “getting to attend the show for free” and “an impressive addition to my CV!”, Sabrina and Moses expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be designers for the show. “It’s been a great learning experience, and without the symbiotic relationship between the designers and organisers, Trashion wouldn’t exist. We depend on each other to make a good show,” they agreed.