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Sustainable fashion is in

Observing Earth Day on April 22, 2024, Metrolink hosted a sustainable student fashion show competition at Los Angeles’ Union Station stop, showcasing a range of designs from both local high school and college students. This competition featured two entries from the University of California, Riverside (UCR), with one entry in the Textile Designers category and another in the Unconventional Materials Designers Category.

The first category presenting textile designers included three designs entered by Joy Pham, a second-year biochemistry major at UCR. She and two other students modeled pieces made of a mix of secondhand denim and sweater material. 

In an interview with The Highlander, Pham explained that she found “Upcycling clothes and giving pieces a second life has always been so interesting.” It was during quarantine that she picked up sewing and began to create pieces that reflected her own personality and style. When Pham heard of the Metrolink’s Sustainable Fashion Show, she jumped at the opportunity to create her collection, and she shared that “seeing everything come to fruition was a dream come true.”

All three pieces in the “Denim in Flore” collection created by Pham had a spring feel to them despite the traditionally winter-weather materials they were composed of. Walking onto the stage to “Feel It” by d4vd first was Pham herself, sporting a white skirt made out of recycled sweater material and a tube top fashioned from an old pair of pants accompanied with a lace trim. Followed by her were her models, Kaegan and Elena, with one wearing a medium-length halter top dress and the other wearing a similar style to Pham, sporting a denim skirt and tank top. 

The second category, composed of designers who created their pieces out of unconventional materials, included a submission by a team of students at UCR. Designers Suraj Ganiger, Andrew Murakami, River Shepard and Adelia Urena presented their feature look, “Aeiforia,” modeled by Cody Ho.

Designer Urena commented after the competition that being able to compete was “a once in a lifetime opportunity!” While not every member in the team had experience in making clothes, their entry provided them an opportunity to push out of their comfort zone and try to make something from scratch.

Striding onto stage accompanied by “Black Hole” by The Blasting Company, the model walked looking as if he had walked straight out of some tech-savvy world. His fit was made out of a stylish shirt with an electric blue trim, pants made from a garbage bag and a face mask out of plastic. This monochromatic blue look was charming and out of the ordinary while fitting into an internet aesthetic.

While neither entry had won the overall contest, both made a passionate statement. The team which composed Aeiforia reflected on the competition, recalling their growth as a team and their fashion expertise. “Even though we didn’t win, we didn’t mind. We got pretty far with it, we had fun at every stage of this project, from brainstorming to completion, and we translated our passion and our idea to create a killer design whose theme, creativity and using a bunch of eclectic items to create awesome clothing that we repurposed, representing the true spirit of the competition, that no other group even thought of.”

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