Students walked the greens in front of the Student Center on campus Thursday as music drowned out any casual conversation.
Students came in droves to stand in front of the M.A.C. Center to wait to see the headlining acts Sammy Adams and Rae Sremmurd as part of the annual FlashFest concert — some waiting as early as 5 p.m. when the various outdoor concerts began.
But there was another group of students out for a different reason: the Global Fashion Citizens, a student organization dedicated to spreading awareness about sustainability and the environmental issues that surround the fashion industry.
The group staged a “Fash-Mob," a mix between a fashion show and a flash mob, to protest a prominent issue in the fashion industry today: fast fashion.
“Fast fashion is like fast food,” said Kelly Cunningham, a junior fashion merchandising major and president of Global Fashion Citizens. “You go to a store like Old Navy, and all the clothing there is made cheap and in bulk and when you go there, you’re influenced to buy a lot of clothing all at once.”
Despite this concept becoming a growing issue in today’s society, some people, including students, are unaware of the concept.
“Pretty much everybody I went up to today said they didn’t know what fast fashion was,” said Arianna Shapiro, a sophomore fashion merchandising major and secretary for Global Fashion Citizens. “There's so much we can still teach people and help them navigate the fashion industry.”
The solution to the fast fashion trend, Cunningham said, in a sustainable alternative.
“Sustainable fashion is a practice where the clothing or the items you produce are self-sustaining,” Cunningham said. “For example, a biodegradable handbag is made from natural materials so that when the bag breaks, you can throw it away, and it will decompose a lot faster.”
Global Fashion Citizens didn’t just protest fast fashion. Signs were painted with messages about unionizing the garment industry, an issue that greatly affects those who work in the factories that produce clothing.
“In places like Bangladesh and Thailand, they don’t have worker's rights,” Cunningham said. “They’re often paid way less than they should be, and their human rights are often taken advantage of.”
The group made its rounds up and down crowd that waited in line for the night of entertainment. Along the way they spoke to anyone that would lend an ear to the message they had.
“We need to learn how to be sustainable and ethical,” Cunningham said. “Especially in college because this is where your habits start to develop.”
Alex Kamczyc is the arts reporter, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org