Food Waste as Fashion: Gross or Green?


Hoyan Ip’s embellishments are made from a combination of expired pasta and other food items. Photo: Hoyan Ip

Messy eaters will often find food on their clothing, but now it’s also an option for the eco-conscious.

40 percent of America’s food is thrown away. Hoyan Ip hopes to put a small dent in those figures with her Bio-Trimmings project. The London-based fashion designer has created buttons, buckles and other trimmings derived from food waste through a process of cooking, drying, crushing, blending, molding and shaping. Something that would otherwise be thrown away finds new life on Ip’s fashion forward designs.

Ip is looking to challenge the fashion industry in new ways with her designs. In an industry that’s always about the next new thing, how will other brands react to her new idea, combined with her ability to use old fabrics in new ways?

“I propose to identify the relationship between food waste and waste produced from the fashion industry,” Ip writes on her website. “It can be argued that nothing is new anymore in terms of fashion clothing as similar trends are re-interpreted season by season, and it is worthwhile to preserve what we already have in our wardrobe ready for it to be current trend again. As there are more and more designers emerging, there is very little we can do to dispose of the unwanted clothes ethically especially when you [realize] such sensitivity and thought has gone into making a garment. The solution is to re-use the clothes, de-brand them, repair them and wear them. However, for those who swear by iconic brands such as Chanel may disagree on what this project proposes. It changes the psychology of consumers on what we think about brands.”

The finished product is a bumpy, crushed-looking button or embellishment that is a perfect conversation piece. Even though the idea might be gross to some, Ip hopes the project will highlight global environmental and food issues and help to create a sustainable future.

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