Have you heard of trash fashion before? Trash fashion is the intersection of art, design and fashion. It’s wearable art made from repurposed materials. We love the idea of taking old and discarded materials and transforming them into one-of-a-kind designs. This upcycled outfit by Janet Lee & Lorraine Kwan is a brilliant example. It’s called Candy Carousel and it’s made out of plastic food lids.

trash fashion

Janet Lee & Lorraine Kwan live in Vancouver, B.C. They are both exhibiting members of ReVision the Art of Recycling. ReVision holds exhibitions of art made from salvaged, scrounged or found materials.  ReVision held its first show in October 2007 to celebrate the Canada-wide Waste Reduction Week. Incorporated as a non-profit in 2011, ReVision provides a showcase for artists using upcycled materials as a major component of their work.

trash fashion

Candy Carousel is the result of a collaboration between Janet and Lorraine. In 2014 Lorraine saw an interesting necklace that Janet had made from plastic shards. Lorraine was showing Trash Fashion at the time, and suggested that they work on a joint project incorporating plastic takeout food container lids.

trash fashion

Janet and Lorraine describe themselves as scavengers of long standing. Friends and family save broken bits and pieces for them and they search out businesses with post industrial waste. We love the story of Lorraine’s first upcycled project. In the days before blue recycling boxes she was annoyed to find plastic measuring cups in every box of powdered laundry detergent. Rather than throw them out, she saved the soap scoops and made a small storage unit for her bathroom wall. Her design process often begins with an interesting material:

I never start with a design, I always start with an element that I think can be restructured in an interesting way.

It took the pair six months of trial and error to assemble the parts and complete this trash fashion outfit. Working with a huge donation of takeout food containers, Janet die cut and embossed leaf shapes. Next she cut shapes from stiff red plastic trays (for shipping fruit) and with the help of a heat gun, melted the plastic into flowers. The flower layers were held together with buttons and telephone wire.

trash fashion

Meanwhile Lorraine was threading short ends of yarn, floss, and ribbon through miles of factory end-of-line lace trims. Bright plastic bags were sewn over cereal box cardboard to give the skirt and shawl support. The lace and leaves were added on top of this. More buttons threaded with wire helped hold the skirt tiers together. Yellow fabric salvaged from a broken umbrella was used to make linings for the hat and skirt.

trash fashion

Janet and Lorraine are inspirational upcyclers. The trash fashion pair love upcycling as they find there is no right or wrong approach. If you have the ability to look at odds and ends and imagine them in a new way, you are halfway there. They suggest using structuring techniques that you are comfortable with, and experimenting with different ways, (such as glue, nuts and bolts) to hold your work together.

Source: ReVision the Art of Recycling

One Thought on Trash Fashion

  1. What I really like about it, is how this project looks much more wearable than most upcycling projects look like in general. 🙂


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