From Unwanted Food Comes Fashion Accessories

One designer is using food waste to create fashionable accessories to give life to preexisting garments.

My project Bio-trimmings looks at the relationship between food waste and waste produced from the fashion industry. The Bio-trimmings collection includes shoulder pads, buckles, buttons, and sequins—all made from foods that were otherwise destined to be disposed of.

The food is separated, dried, cooked, blended, and transformed into beautiful fashion trimmings—key features of a garment often overlooked.

Today, trims such as buttons, metal buckles, and zippers are all manufactured industrially. There are concerns about the impact it has on the environment, as it consumes a lot of energy and fuel. My project hopes to combat this.

It can be argued that nothing is new anymore in fashion, as similar trends are reinterpreted season by season. So it's worthwhile to preserve what we already have in our closets to make items ready for when they become "trendy" 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 think about the sensitivity and thought that has gone into making a garment.

The solution is to reuse the clothes, de-brand them, repair them, and wear them. Those who swear by iconic brands such as Chanel may disagree on what this project proposes. It changes the consumers’ psychology of how we think about brands. By altering the little details on a garment—such as a Burberry trenchcoat with trimmings made from wasted food—how might the standard Burberry devotee react? More interestingly, what will the actual brand think of this? Does adding products made from wasted food increase the ethical value of a brand?

To avoid as much waste as a possible in this project, sequins were developed from the cut-out waste from buttons. They can be used to embellish and alter the character of a brand. And the sequin products can be used to repair old, ripped garments by updating them with colored sequins of different shapes and sizes.

This project is a way to reuse wasted food and show the relationship between food science and fashion; to promote awareness of global food waste issues; to highlight socioeconomic and environmental issues; and to develop an ethical and sustainable future.

Photos courtesy of Hoyan Ip

Center for American Progress Action Fund

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