FBA explores upcycling in first fashion show since 2018


Images via Fashion Business Association

Models pose in the William Pitt Union after the Fashion Business Association Fashion Show on Saturday.

By Jessica McKenzie, Culture Editor

For Pitt’s Fashion Business Association, practicing sustainability while putting together fashionable looks is a very attainable goal 一 and it’s a must.

FBA hosted “Ecovision: Upcycling In Style” on Saturday night in the William Pitt Union Ballroom to an audience of about 50 people. As the organization’s first fashion show since 2018, the theme focused on sustainability and spreading awareness against fast fashion. Members of FBA encouraged attendees to transform their wardrobes creatively, by thrifting or making their own clothing.

Madeline Sloaf, a junior media and professional communications major, acted as the fashion show’s head stylist. She said all four collections of clothing presented in the show were selected from local thrift stores or FBA members’ own closets. 

“It was really fun to get all these random pieces that we could find and then try and make them something really cool and unique,” Sloaf said. “My committee worked really hard, and it turned out great.”

One look on the runway was an outfit featuring pink tights, pink shoes and a gold dress, which Sloaf said was a favorite. Other pieces included vintage Pitt gear, thrift clothes collected abroad and everyday looks for going to class.

Sloaf said because FBA has noticed thrifting becoming more widespread on campus, the organization decided to concentrate on the cause for the fashion show.

“We were trying to come up with themes that more students could relate to and such, and thrifting is something I find to be very popular around my peers,” Sloaf said. “[The theme] is really important. It’s a statement about our climate and how fast fashion is really infiltrated. Younger people, we buy it constantly and then we are constantly buying the new thing, new this, new that, but really what we need to do is start caring and repurposing.”

FBA collaborated with student-run businesses and organizations that promote fashion sustainability for the event, such as Elcon Threads, “Up” Editorial, Crocket by Esther Kim and Studio 412. 

Hannah Beil is a sophomore business information systems, marketing and supply chain management major as well as the editor-in-chief and founder of “Up” Editorial. “Up” is an online platform dedicated to blogging about culture, fashion and lifestyle.

As a member of FBA, Beil said she feels strongly about the show’s theme of upcycling and tries to encourage the same practice using her online platform.

“Ecovision 一 I actually resonate a lot with this …  90% of what I use for monthly issues of ‘Up’ are thrifted clothing, and then the other 10% I’ll use things I make out of random materials like cardboard or burlap,” Beil said.

Beil founded “Up” in May 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform has gained a significant following since it launched, discussing the latest styles and trends, as well as ways to save money and remain environmentally friendly when shopping for clothes.

“I was looking at colleges at the time and I realized that I don’t want to sit at a desk job for the rest of my life. So I was like, ‘I need to do something that’s going to fulfill me because life is too short,’” Beil said. “This is my way of … incorporating fashion and meeting new people. [‘Up’] is something that fulfills me and combines my passions.”

Beil said she loved the looks presented in the fashion show and felt inspired to continue experimenting with her own style. One of Beil’s most notable fashion creations is a skirt made out of cardboard, she said.

“[The skirt] literally took up half my dorm. I just spread open the top for flaps for them and then I just sewed together the fabric on top of it. And I just cut a little circle on the top to fit around your waist,” Beil said.

Emilie Perman, a sophomore finance and marketing major and FBA’s director of alumni relations, said one of her favorite pieces on the runway was part of the show’s formal collection, pants with chains. She said the look reflects her own style.

As one of the hosts of the event, Perman said the FBA board felt excited to host a fashion show for the first time in five years.

“We felt ready. We felt like we had strong leadership. So that’s kind of what got it rolling. But it was a learning process for us to just understand how to put it together,” Perman said.

Perman added that upcycling is crucial to explore, especially for college students.

“As college students … we’re being met with a lot of media that’s pushing us towards fast fashion, which ultimately isn’t good for the environment,” Perman said. “So for us to be able to put almost a movement together to combat that with talking about thrifting and upcycling and, specifically, how you can do that at Pitt, I think that just pairs so well with what we want as a club and all of us individually.”