A unique fashion show at Char’s Landing on Sunday, May 13 will be a celebration of upcycled material and diversity.
Salvage Couture is a project put together by Alberni District Secondary School student Amira Strain that aims to bring awareness to the harms of fast fashion and the effect it has on the environment.
Students in Anne Ostwald’s Social Justice 12 class each have to come up with a final project for the end of the year, and Strain was inspired by the waste that she saw in fashion shows.
“I thought I could probably make stuff you’d find on an haute couture runway out of stuff I find at the thrift store,” she said. “I wanted to destroy the idea that fast fashion is the way to go.”
The fashion show will feature 15 pieces made from material that would otherwise be thrown away—everything from evening gowns to hats made out of old doilies to a shirt made out of an old pair of jeans. Most of Strain’s materials came from a “scrap” bin at the Salvation Army, with clothes that could no longer be sold due to tears or stains.
“I got to have fun playing with all that stuff and trying to make it work,” said Strain.
Strain, who was raised on thrift store clothes, said the average shirt is worn about four times. “How can you make a difference to prolong the life of your clothes, without having to purchase a whole new wardrobe?” she wondered.
The project was a learning opportunity for Strain, who had only taken one sewing class previously. “I learned quite a lot on the technical side,” she laughed.
But she also learned a lot about the effect of the fashion industry on the environment. “I went into a mall the other day and thought, I can’t even go into these stores, knowing what they do,” she said.
Salvage Couture, which Strain described as a “moving art exhibit,” will feature models of all ages, sizes and genders, ignoring stereotypes that have played a role in fashion for decades.
“I wanted it to be a celebration of diversity,” said Strain. “I like to destroy the concept of gender and turn it on its head. I wanted to find a way that people walking in my show could express themselves without having to fit into a binary.”
The show will last just about an hour, with a little time for mingling and questions. Doors open at 2 p.m. Strain will also have art for sale. Entry to Salvage Couture will be by donation, with most donations covering the cost of the show. Strain said she chose Char’s Landing (4815 Argyle Street) as a location because she didn’t want a typical runway for her show.
“I wanted the models to be walking through people,” she said.
Instructor Anne Ostwald said Strain’s work has been “phenomenal” so far.
“She is very creative in everything she touches,” said Ostwald. “There’s a lot of work that goes into this. It’s not just making the clothes: it’s the planning, the writing, the advertising.”
“It was a fun way to express myself and my art,” said Strain.
As for Strain’s fashions, many of them will end up being reused by other students at an upcoming school dance, she said.