For many, a plastic bag might not seem like the right fashion trend as they reckon that empty, used bags are trash that is useless, but for 15-year-old Constanta Chilyama from Okahandja plastic fashion is the beginning of a successful career.
Chilyama has fallen in love with plastic designing and is planning to start a part-time career while still fulfilling her school duties. “You are never too old or young to achieve your dreams,” she confidently tells the Windhoek Observer during a telephonic interview.
It all started when Chilyama entered a fashion designing contest that was held in her home town last month. “I was searching for material that was different. The idea to use plastic bags came to me when I got irritated by plastic bags lying around all over our garden town. I then started to think of how I could help clean up the town and re-use these plastic bags. It was then when it came to mind to use plastic bags for my designs.”
Chilyama says at first her friends laughed at her when she told them about her idea of making clothes from plastic bags. “My friends did not approve of the idea. I was told that I won’t make it and must forget about the idea. People must move away from doing something that the other one does. We must stop to copy others. I hope to inspire others to think out of the box and do something that no one has ever done before.”
The young plastics queen acknowledges that the local fashion industry is small and hopes to work hard in order to help develop it. “Often you see people leaving their home town in order to achieve their dreams in other countries, but not me. After I have successfully completed my secondary education I would like to study abroad. I would definitely come back home to invest my knowledge and skills in the local fashion industry. My dream is to make the people of my country look beautiful.”
The burgeoning designer further stresses that Namibians do not support each other enough. She urges Namibians to stop buying products from designers outside the country. She says supporting local designers is the only way the country would grow and succeed.
As for her future plans, for the next three years she plans to enter more fashion competitions which will financially assist her to make more designs. “More and more designers are working with plastics, as they look at lower impact methods of producing clothing. So, I think the use of these materials will increase.”
Chilyama is not the only designer interested in plastic designing. In fact, September’s New York Fashion Week proved recycled plastics are not only stylish, but they are actually wearable.
Well known Bodkin designer Eviana Hartman used recycled plastic, polyester and organic cottons in her spring 2010 line. The collection was voted “Most Wearable” at Fashion Week by Ecouterre. Hartman is also a recent winner of the Ecco Domani fashion award. The designer uses post-consumer recycled products, vintage fabrics and organic dyes sourced from all over the world.
But the use of plastic in designs did not stop in New York. Similar trends are popping up in spring collections in London, Milan and Paris as designers are using pre-consumer waste to create everything from patent leather shoes to crisp blazers.