UMix hosts ‘SustainaBALL’ Showcasing Sustainable Clothing

More than 100 University of Michigan students gathered in the Michigan League to attend “Sustainaball” to celebrate sustainable fashion and student-led environmentalism Friday evening. The event, hosted by VIPs Club, featured educational activities and crafting opportunities in collaboration with other U-M sustainability organizations such as Eco Threads. The “ball” culminated in the first VIPs Club Fashion Show, where individuals walked the runway in handmade clothing pieces created by students with a focus on eco-friendly materials. 

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, LSA senior Sophia Kamien, secretary of the nonprofit VIPs Fund, the nonprofit stemming from the VIPs Club, said the fashion show’s collection aims to promote a one-of-a-kind message through clothing design. 

“It’s a love story for sustainable fashion, everything is made by students, for students,” Kamien said. “The pieces are unique fiber arts projects which are all sustainably made, all upcycled and for the planet.” 

LSA senior Daphne Matter, founder and CEO of the VIPs Club and nonprofit, said the student organization often fundraises for community-oriented conservation projects. The organization had a table showcasing handmade crochet pieces, which were for sale during the event. Matter said the money made from selling the crochet pieces featured in the show would be put toward a fund to protect endangered species. 

“We are a community of artists who use secondhand and sustainable materials to make wearable art pieces,” Daphne said. “All of the profits from selling those goes straight into wildlife conservation programs.” 

In addition to the fashion show, “Sustainaball” offered a variety of activities for students to participate in, such as crochet and knitting workshops, zine-making, trivia, mending stations and a clothing swap. 

LSA junior Misha Patel told The Daily she thought “Sustainaball” was a great opportunity to spend time with friends and relax through creativity.

“My friends and I go to a lot of the UMix events, and we read the description of this event and saw a lot of things to do and have fun with,” Patel said. “(At the zine-making station,) I was flipping through the books and cutting things out that represent me, like my favorite food and colors, and it is really fun and relaxing.” 

One of the most popular stations of the night was a clothing swap organized by Eco Threads, which focuses on reducing fast-fashion waste and overconsumption. LSA sophomore Mori Rothhorn, co-founder of Eco Threads, said the clothing swap was a pop-up version of the club’s monthly swaps in East Quad Residence Hall. Rothhorn told The Daily they think clothing swaps provide a way for people to slow down and connect with others over clothes.

“It’s a powerful way where we can start shifting away from these practices of fast fashion that tell you to consume, and it really personalizes the act of getting new clothes and fashion,” Rothhorn said. “It’s a powerful point of connection.” 

The clothing swap included collaborative pieces between Eco Threads and VIPs Club, featuring custom screen-printing logos and designs that followed the sustainability theme.

“The custom screens VIPs made have been my favorite part so far, it’s such a cool way to upcycle clothes and give these clothes new life,” Rothhorn said.

Rothhorn said all of the events at “Sustainaball” served as an important first step toward increasing sustainable practices in the fashion industry. 

“Sustainable fashion is important and it is things like thrifting and upcycling and coming to swaps, but it’s also a lot more,” Rothhorn said. “It’s also really institutional and it’s making active choices about where you are putting your money, pushing for policy change and wonderful things like that.” 

Correction 3/25: This article has been updated to reflect that VIPs Club was the main host of the event, which featured several other student organizations such as Eco Threads.

Daily Staff Reporter Vivian Carper can be reached at [email protected].


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