Packing paper with recycled trim. Credit: Patti Robinson
When Patti Robinson, a summer camp instructor at The Art Farm in Bridgehampton, NY, sent over some photos of recycled fashion, I was intrigued -- especially with the shape and design of the one, above -- and even more so when she told me that the young campers who crafted these designs ranged between the ages of eight and twelve.
This summer, Patti, a self-proclaimed Project Runway fan, struck up a recycled fashion challenge; it quickly became a camp favorite and evolved into a summer-long program, called "Generation Green Couture." Click through for photos and more from Patti, on how the fun, frugal, and thrifty experiment is increasing the young minds' "eco-consciousness," while fostering the development of creative problem solving skills. Each dress is made with recycled materials, which means they have a story before they have even been worn: the image, above, was made from packing material and recycled trim from a store that went out of business on 38th Street, in New York City; the dress in the background was made from Patti's dog food bags and trimmed with once-cherished CDs.
Patti believes children take more risks in fashion, which is why she says: "The designs have a freedom and playfulness that couldn't have been created by an adult -- to me, that's what makes them so magical." Find her campers fun eco-fashion looks, below.
NY Times, Forever 21& Financial Times bags. Credit: Patti Robinson
Coffee bag with recycled fabric /Valentine candy box. Credit: Patti Robinson
Sugar bag with "Now and Later" candy straps. Credit: Patti Robinson
It may be all fun and games but these young designers have deadlines, time-crunches, and have to work as teams. More from Patti, below.
For the class they have one hour and fifteen minutes to work on the design, and every week I provide a different challenge...Hidden in all this fashion is also exercise in nurturing creative thinking and teamwork. As a team they have to agree on what they want to do, including styling with accessories.
At the end we have a runway show and a panel of judges...Initially, I insisted that we shouldn't have a winner because everyone's work is so creative; but when they all insisted -- that they needed to know which outfit was most successful at meeting the weekly challenge, so that they could be better designers -- I realized that it was what I'd been thinking all along: they are real designers -- really good designers!
And when Patti isn't rearing the next Gary Harvey's of green couture, she is working on art projects, using recycled materials, with the 300 kids that attend The Art Farm summer camp, which already has a philosophy bent towards green, according to Patti.