By Nick Christophers
In every one of us there is an artist with a wild idea to explore. One such individual developed her idea into an interesting theme. Amy Merli brought together what would become known as “Trashion Fashion,” a different way of looking at trash. It may sound odd and unbelievable but Amy has managed to make trash into a fashion statement.
Amy’s vision came alive in 2011 when she thought of creating clothing out of what would otherwise be considered waste. Her thought process was to somehow find a unique way to use waste materials for a better purpose. Hence, she started Trashion Fashion. This process also allows young people, artists and designers a positive outlet to express themselves. This kind of work is a fusion of performing arts, environmentalism, fashion and community involvement.
Since 2011 Amy has had various shows showcasing her work and all the designs are made from 90% waste. One of her shows raised $4,500 for the Sustainable Farm School scholarship program. The organization also serves as an awareness to the value in waste and how to solve it.
“There are many nontraditional sources for waste that the general public are not aware of. Such as commercial waste streams which will have clean waste that have not been and waste that had a one time use. We want to inspire our audience and the artists involved in our shows to rethink everyday products as materials for creation. Our Trashion Fashion Show team selects designs based off of resourcefulness, innovation and quality. We have had over 270 different designs in our shows over the past 5 years.”
They also run year-round all inclusive programs for the youth. These programs highlight creativity and waste while blending in certain academics. Many have left the programs with life altering experiences. When they joined with Sustainable America they helped to diminish the waste at SXSW to zero waste. In addition they also partnered with Blue Earth Compost and Harvest Power on certain projects.
In their first year they had three designers, fifteen models and twenty five various designs. Their installations have been featured at Whole Foods, Hartford Prints!, Pepco Gallery in Washington, DC and at Reagan National Airport. In another installation they partnered up with Studio N111’s Nina Salazar at Real Art Ways and the Connecticut Science Center.
At the recent Hartford event they gave away a large amount of seedlings, local wildflower seed bombs and pansy plants. The purpose was to help leave the city greener than they found it. Also featured were dance companies from Connecticut along with ballerinas in a choreographed runway.
“We feel strongly about inspiring the youth to find wonder in waste. We partner with local middle and high schools to integrate our mission, create different trashion fashion show inspired scholarships, have essay contests, virtual campaigns such as trash-o-ween and trashion prom and recently we partnered with a university for a zero-waste and sustainability class.”
They have been featured in the NY Daily News, The NY Post, The Hartford Courant, Hartford Magazine, West Hartford Life, ABC News, Ekocycle and NBC News. Currently the organization has upcoming shows in June in DUMBO at the Queens Botanical Garden and on the High Line. They are always on the move trying to create as much awareness to the importance of a clean America. At the same time they value the importance of encouraging creativity in their designers and artists. Amy along with Trashion Fashion are forging ahead to cultivate a greener community everywhere they go.