Behind the scenes of Runway Repurposed fashion show
The 8th annual Runway Re-purposed fashion show is a unique, eco-friendly fashion design competition. Each designer needs to use at least 70% of the recycled clothing and materials that were donated by the local residents and businesses. You can read more details from my previous post here. As I said, this show is near and dear to my heart because I was a small part of it when it just started. Below are a few photos from back in 2008 and 2009 when I entered the competition. Talk about a Throw Back!
For the 2008 inaugural show I was into the military style so I used a sweater, brightly colored tank top and one pair of jeans to create this outfit.
Those are the clothes I picked to create that mini dress below.
Now after 8 years running, this show is more and more professional and attracted many talented designers from all over Michigan. It even partners with Central Michigan University. I have no doubt this tradition will grow even more in the future. Have you ever wondered how such a tiny little town like Howell, MI started this unique show? Today I am going to take you behind the scenes to find out exactly that.
Behind all the glitz and glamour, there is one person I will never forget. I think she is the unsung hero of this story for me. Her name is Mary Rettenmaier and we met when I lived in this tiny town. I was new to not only the area but the country and was looking for ways to meet people and improve my English. So one thing I did was volunteer for our local Women’s Resource Center. Mary was also involved at the center. She is that kind of person; always so nice and so involved in local charity events to help others. Below is the interview about how she came up with the idea to start this cool show.
“I came up with the idea of Runway Repurposed as a way to take out-dated, cast-off clothing and give it a new life – and to help our community at the same time.
It was during my time at the Women’s Resource Center – a nonprofit counseling center – that I came up with the idea for Runway Repurposed. At the Women’s Resource Center, we had a free professional clothing closet that was made possible by donated clothing. We provided women with gently used professional clothing. The closet was furnished strictly by donated clothing. However, everyone’s idea of what “professional” clothing was varied greatly. We’d get donations of resort wear, blue jeans, vintage clothing, prom dresses – the whole gamut.
I thought there has to be a way for this clothing to help another nonprofit in our community. There has to be a way to keep the giving going.
It was at this same time that my youngest daughter was a teenager in high school. We found this new show on cable called “Project Runway.” We both loved it! I’ve always enjoyed sewing – and my daughter was dabbling in making a few pieces of clothing for herself. Our weekly time together watching Project Runway was something really special.
When your kids are teenagers, you will do anything to keep that spark – that connection alive. Project Runway was one area that we both loved… creating fashion.
I asked my boss, Marilyn Emerson, if I could take the unusable “unprofessional” clothing from the clothing closet and use it to benefit another nonprofit. She said “sure thing.”
I was on the board of the Livingston Arts Council at that time, and I thought that recycling/repurposing clothing could be considered “Fashion is Art.” And so, Runway Repurposed was born.
I began collecting clothing from everyone I knew. I was thrilled to have collected about 500 pieces in just a few months.
The first year for Runway Repurposed was 2008. I put on the show and did all the work myself. It was a fun thing to do during the bleak winter months.
Fast-forward to 2016 – and here we are gearing up for our 8th annual “Fashion is Art” recycled, repurposed fashion show. Our committee has grown to 15 members. We work and plan this event for 6 months of the year.”
Mary is just like so many women in this country; she’s been through a lot of tough times but still gives her 100% to help others in need. When fashion is combined with charity, community involvement and selflessness, it is not just art, it is also a heart warming memory.
Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!
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Runway re-purposed 2016 fashion show
They say you can’t go home again. But I did. That is I returned to the town I called home when I first moved to America almost 9 years ago. Why? Well my step-son still lives there and it was his birthday Sunday and also to attend and cover a fashion show. But wait a minute you say, you remember that I lived in a very small town back then. It’s true, it was small but it also had a lot going on for it’s size! Known as the Runway Re-purposed Fashion Show it’s been held every February for 8 years now in Howell, Michigan. This show is a little bit different than most others you may have attended. First, this is a unique, eco-friendly fashion design competition. Second, there’s that Re-purposed part. This means that each designer needs to use at least 70% of the recycled clothing and materials that were donated by the local residents and businesses. As you can see from the photo below, on the screen behind the runway, this designer is showing the recycled clothes they picked to create their fashion masterpiece. Third, this event is a fundraiser. The money collected from entrants and the audience goes to help renovate the Howell Opera House. This building’s secret past had been hidden away for years by, of all things, a hardware store before some local history buffs discovered it and let people know that a buried treasure was right in the middle of their town. Ever since they’ve been finding ways to raise funds for repairing the structure which was built in 1881.
This program is near to my heart for many reasons. As I mentioned, I lived in this small but very nice and charming town for 5 years. How nice is it? The kind of place where strangers will say hi when they see each other on the street. Neighbors ask how you’re doing and really mean it. These same neighbors will help clean the snow from your sidewalk or cut grass in front of your home if they see you didn’t get the chance to do it. We had so many neighborhood parties, BBQs and gatherings. But the most important reason is, I entered the very first and second years of this competition.
You may recall I love fashion design and always dreamed of being a fashion designer. So when we first heard of this program I thought it was a perfect outlet for me to push myself and learn more English. I will dig into my photo archives later so I can show you my two design entries. I guess that means you have to come back again to read more this Friday and next Monday. But then, that was probably your plan anyway!
This year the theme was Hollywood Then and Now. This show has gotten bigger every year and for the 2016 competition there were more than 70 designers who entered their creations.
There were several age and skill categories starting with Young Beginner Designs and then Beginner Student Designs. Here are some of the cute looks from them.
After a brief intermission the second part of the show featured Beginner Adult Design, Avant-Garde Design and Ambassador Models who showed off some winning outfits from previous years looks. Here are a few of my favorites below.
After another short break the highlight of the afternoon came with the Advanced Designer entrants. I have to say some of the outfits looked so professionally made it was hard to believe they started with those recycled clothes and reused materials. All the designers were so creative. Here are some that really made my heart skip a beat. To see all the people that came to watch, the volunteers that put in their time and effort to help run the show, and the contestants that worked hard to make their creative vision come true, made me very proud of my little town. And happy that I can use my blog to help spread the word.
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