RECYCLE THE RUNWAY
Apparel and Interior Merchandising Organization hosts 19th annual fashion show
Secondhand fashion got its chance in the spotlight when East Carolina University’s Apparel and Interior Merchandising Organization (AIMO) hosted its 19th annual fashion show on April 18. This year’s show, Recycle the Runway, was centered on sustainable fashion.
Haven Ballard, senior fashion merchandising major and AIMO president, has been leading and collaborating with AIMO members since they began preparing the show in January.
“As many of our members are fashion merchandising students, we have a deeper understanding of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. When deciding the theme of our show, we wanted to choose something that felt important to us, and something that could possibly make an impact on campus,” Ballard said. “The choice was easy to create a show based around sustainable fashion because it is such a crucial topic of discussion within the industry as well as our lives.”
The show included work from multiple student designers and placed an emphasis on sustainable fashion practices. Students provided their own secondhand pieces to be used in the show, and pieces were also used from the nonprofit My Sister’s Closet, which supports domestic violence prevention.
Some pieces were even donated by Runying Chen, faculty advisor of AIMO and associate professor in the College of Health and Human Performance. Chen uses the pieces to teach courses such as fashion history, textile introduction and the student capstone project.
Chen assisted the AIMO students by connecting with My Sister’s Closet and Chad Carwein, ECU sustainability manager. She also helped the AIMO marketing committee plan materials and promotions and oversaw the fashion show brochure content and printing.
“Fashion show event planning is a very complex process involving a large number of people and items, plus logistics, music and test runs. It is truly teamwork upon teamwork,” Chen said.
“The success of the show indicated that students worked very well together. Each of the fashion show committees has a chair who works with team members, then all the committee chairs work together with the AIMO president and vice president.”
“Many people, including ourselves in the beginning of this process, don’t realize how much goes into planning an event like this,” Ballard said. “It took many meetings and discussions about every tiny detail that would go into our show from decor to the looks that would walk the runway to the models and so much more.”
With more than 100 attendees, Recycle the Runway brought in a lot of positive feedback.
“The managers from My Sister’s Closet were very impressed with the show: the styling talent, the models who showed confidence, and the great music; it exceeded their expectations,” Chen said. “Two young off-campus audiences were very impressed by the vintage and secondhand styling — they loved how the old and used secondhand clothing could be styled in such a creative and attractive yet unique way.”
More than 40 models walked the runway, and the show included work from four student designers and nine textile design students.
With Recycle the Runway taking place during the last week of classes for students, the AIMO members had to balance classes and the show.
“Being the president of AIMO has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have done during my college experience,” Ballard said. “Having to manage meetings and events such as our fashion show during my last semester of undergrad has been a whirlwind and has pushed me to be better every step of the way.”
“There were so many uncertainties and things we didn’t know how to handle, but it all came together in a way that made all the hard work and stress more than worth it,” she said. “Watching the show, I couldn’t keep this huge smile off my face knowing that everything we had done in the past four months had come together in such a great way.”
The show also included a silent auction which included pieces donated by ECU Merchandising Advisory Board members. AIMO also provided resources and recommendations of where to shop sustainably, such as My Sister’s Closet, Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
“I hope that Recycle the Runway inspired students and others to see the possibility of sustainable fashion and think about how the choices they make may affect the environment in small but impactful ways,” said Ballard.
Clothing pieces from My Sister’s Closet will be sold through off-campus pop-up sales, such as the My Sister’s Closet Designer Event, which will help generate funds for the store.