The 10th-annual Trash the Runway (previously known as Recycled Runway) packed the Boulder Theater on Tuesday night. Local teenagers – mostly, but not all, girls – spent months designing and constructing outfits from found and recycled materials, and the competitive, fun-loving atmosphere was part fashion show, part basketball game, part Beatles concert.
Net proceeds from Trash the Runway went to Blue Sky Bridge – a local non-profit that fosters safe communities, healing, and justice to end child abuse – and as usual the event was chiefly organized by the inspiring women at Common Threads, which is as much a wildly successful Colorado consignment shop as it is a tight-knit women’s circle.
In addition to organizing the Trash the Runway competition – which started as a modest local project and now sells out the Boulder Theater every year – Common Threads also hosted recycled-couture workshops for local children, who made dresses out of everyday items from candy wrappers to rice bags. The little ones – who took the stage first, after an apt playlist that included David Bowie’s “Fashion” – were adorable and creative, and many will no doubt take part in the big-kids event someday.
The main event was split into two competitions – middle-school age and high school – and was judged by Allie Olson of Indiesew; renowned photographer George Lange; and Maria Ruzic of Sherpani. Participants vied for prizes in categories such as functionality and innovation, along with crowd favorite and best overall.
One young participant weaved together hundreds of strips from medical gloves to make her dress. Others used dog-food bags, butter wrappers from Breadworks, shower mats, straws, even movie tickets. One high-school boy said the pants he put together from found materials were so comfortable he plans on wearing them often.
Quinn Logan of Denver designed and assembled an incredible dress made of food bags and won the high-school award for best functionality. The most sensational, and moving, outfit of the night, however, was the one made by Longmont high-schooler Ara Davis, who constructed much of her outfit from an old air mattress. On the back was a target from a shooting range.
Interviewed after her turn on the runway, Davis told the Boulder audience – virtually all white – “the target represents how society targets minorities.”
Davis won the grand prize.