Manhattan Youth Runway Show Makes Fashion and Environmental Statements

Adisen Lee shows off a design at Manhattan Youth's third annual fashion show by students in Runway Project after-school classes held at the Peck Slip School and Downtown Community Center. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jun. 21, 2019

Who needs a fancy Fashion Week runway to flaunt their haute couture creations when they have the Peck Slip School cafeteria?

Certainly not the more than 50 models and designers in Manhattan Youth’s after-school fashion classes who showed off their year’s work on Saturday, June 15, before an admiring audience of family and friends.

Photos by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Called “Recycled: Under the Ocean Fashion Show,” this was Manhattan Youth’s third annual showcase of student work, but with a difference. Along with lessons in sewing mechanics, pattern making, accessory design and show production, the kids were introduced to a big ecological concern: the threat to sea creatures by discarded plastic. So for this program, many of the students made environmental as well as fashion statements with their designs, using recycled plastics, fabrics and thread and other discarded materials, and by choosing colors that evoked the sea and nature—or the dangers posed to them by oil spills and toxic waste.

“Imagine,” said emcee and 5th grader Zephyr Sosin, one of three boys in the program, “how we as designers could help alleviate this problem by repurposing plastic into something of beauty.”

Daequan Andino, the instructor, said he wanted to add some “global awareness” to the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders’ fashion studies, “especially with the fashion industry being among the ones blamed for some of the pollution that’s happening.” The industry, he said, is responding. “I thought it would be a good idea to teach our future fashionistas that the industry is not only producing all this clothing, but they are recycling and trying to start other [environmental] initiatives.”

During his introduction to the runway show, Andino announced his pride in how it all turned out. “They look so amazing. Of course I’m trying to hold back my emotions,” he said. “Just watching them be so passionate is really thrilling.”

The finale. Everyone walks the runway.