Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA students promote sustainability through Green is the New Black event

October 17, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University fashion merchandising senior Karlye Fleniken of Lufkin models a dress she and Cheymar Wright, fashion merchandising senior from Fort Worth, designed using a broken umbrella, aluminum cans, tablecloths, water bottles, fake moss and recycled zippers. Dozens of fashion merchandising students created garments from recycled materials for the recent Green is the New Black event, which raised sustainability awareness and served as the community event for the Blue Jeans Go Green project.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - From newspaper floral arrangements and locally sourced food to a fashion show featuring clothing created from recycled materials, sustainability was the name of the game last Wednesday night as Stephen F. Austin State University students presented Green is the New Black.

SFA fashion merchandising and hospitality administration students partnered to coordinate the event, which raised awareness about sustainability.

Inside SFA's Culinary Café, hospitality administration students led by classmates Haley Howland and Ivory Comeaux worked as event planners and served a three-course dinner based on the farm-to-table sustainability concept, meaning food ingredients were locally sourced from Appleby Community Farms. Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity members also provided entertainment during the dinner.

"This is hands-on learning at its best," said Dr. Gina Fe Causin, SFA assistant professor of hospitality administration. "The service team's goal was to have a memorable evening for the guests and indeed it was."

Following dinner, attendees toured the fashion gallery that highlighted the Blue Jeans Go Green project, which SFA's fashion merchandising students have been organizing. Cotton Incorporated is sponsoring Blue Jeans Go Green, and the project challenges people to donate denim to be upcycled into UltraTouch denim insulation. This is the third year SFA has participated in the project.

The gallery showcased denim with a few twists. In one corner, students created a denim gown, and mannequins displayed the different ways people wear denim. Plaques throughout the gallery also explained the process of turning denim into recycled insulation.

The evening culminated with a fashion show in the Human Sciences South Building on the university's campus.

"For the past two years, the fashion show has served as our community event for denim collection for the Blue Jeans Go Green project," said Jamie Cupit, fashion merchandising instructor in SFA's School of Human Sciences.

The show's theme this year was "The Fifth Element," as students were inspired by the four natural elements of water, wind, earth and fire. The fifth element was denim. Students enrolled in Cupit's advanced textiles and fashion promotion courses were required to utilize recycled materials and incorporate denim into the garments.

"The event turned out the way we intended," Cupit said. "There were a lot of creative designs. The meal and gallery were amazing, and the show was a success."

Newspapers, water bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags, denim and more found a new life in the students' creations. Fashion merchandising seniors Cheymar Wright of Fort Worth and Karlye Fleniken of Lufkin, along with classmates Alexis Epps and Ashley Sellman, designed a dress titled "Demeter Island" from a broken umbrella, old tablecloths, cans, water bottles, fake moss, recycled zippers and denim.

"Our inspiration for the dress was Demeter, a Greek goddess. She is known as earth mother or Mother Nature as we know it," Wright said.

Naomi Kossie, Killeen fashion merchandising senior, designed and modeled her design, "Phoenix." Kossie's drive to be her own boss was her inspiration to create a garment with a fire theme. She used grocery bags, water bottles, denim, baby formula bottle tops and diaper packages to assemble her creation.

"It wasn't as easy as I thought. I'm creative, but I've never done anything like this," Kossie said. "I feel this will help me in my future career."

Students have set a goal to collect more than 10,000 pieces of denim by the end of October. Donations can be delivered to drop boxes located in the Human Sciences North Building lobby and the fashion gallery in the Education Annex Building on the SFA campus. For more information about denim donations, contact Cupit at (936) 468-2238.