ReFashion Week NYC brings sustainability to the runway
by Sara Krevoy
Mar 05, 2020 | 3554 views | 0 0 comments | 284 284 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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One person’s trash is another person’s fashion. That was the driving lesson behind New York City’s second annual ReFashion Week, an event series promoting sustainability and reuse of textiles.

A collaboration between the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) donateNYC program and the Foundation for New York’s Strongest, ReFashion Week is designed to start conversations about the environmental impact of our closets.

The unique initiative produced a full seven days of events celebrating the emerging talent and creativity of the city, more than half of which took place in Brooklyn, a borough rich in eclectic style trends, innovative designs and popular influencers.

According to DSNY, discarded textiles account for 6 percent of the city’s waste stream. Each year, New Yorkers throw out approximately 200,000 tons of clothing, shoes and accessories, which amounts to a pile as high as the Empire State Building.


“The vast majority of these items can be recycled, donated, or mended and repaired to extend their life cycle,” said DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “ReFashion Week NYC is focused on starting conversations and action between the fashion world, businesses and consumers on how we can make fashion more sustainable and reduce this waste.”

Following industry hype created by NY Fashion Week 2020 earlier in the month, ReFashion Week officially kicked off with an event at Brooklyn Army Terminal on February 22.

The opening ceremony featured a pop-up reuse market, clothing swap and interactive art installation. Industry experts and designers also participated in a panel discussion on sustainable fashion.

In addition to numerous events from styling sessions to workshops to factory walkthroughs, ReFashion Week NYC also issued a look book for this year presenting a collection of sample outfits styled using secondhand clothing from donateNYC partners such as Goodwill, Housing Works and Eileen Fisher.

On Friday, the week-long series culminated in a ReFashion Show at The Canvas in Williamsburg. Stylists and designers brought their thrifted styles and upcycled designs to the runway, while experts in fashion and sustainability judged looks, ultimately picking one winning stylist and one winning designer.



“The complexity of the fashion industry requires collaborative solutions from the public and private sectors,” said Devin James Gilmartin, creative director for The Canvas by Querencia Studio. “ReFashion Week is an exciting and essential step towards making progress in this field more consistent and broadly understood.”



ReFashion Weeks is part of a larger initiative to reduce the city’s textile waste footprint year round. DSNY offers New Yorkers several resources that can help make their wardrobes more sustainable.

In addition to a textile donation map locating more than 1,000 drop off sites across the five boroughs, the department also hosts a donateNYC website and app that aids residents in finding nonprofits that accept donations of clothing, furniture and electronics.

Through a program called refashionNYC, the city provides apartment buildings, offices, schools and commercial sites with textile donation bins.

Since its inception in 2011, refashionNYC has collected more than 20 million pounds of recycled materials.

GrowNYC, a partner of DSNY, holds Stop’N’Swap events to give New Yorkers the opportunity to find new homes for things they no longer need. Participants can bring reusable items of all kinds to the swap, while at the same time taking those they find useful.

Visit refashionnyc.org for more information.

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