Siyu Gloria Wang and Xuechun Iris Zhang are two students at The Storm King School known for their artistic talents, especially when they work together as a team. On numerous occasions, the girls have produced artwork that has been recognized at Storm King and other venues in the Hudson Valley. During the 2017-2018 school year, the two rising seniors teamed up once again – this time on a project with global reach. For their Cornerstone project, the girls immersed themselves in the subject of Environmental Fashion. Through their work, both say they’ve found a great way to combine their desire to help preserve the environment with their passion for prêt-à-porter, or ready-to-wear fashion.
According to Gloria and Iris, Environmental Fashion can be seen as an alternative trend against what they call “fast fashion.” “Environmental Fashion is fashion that is slow, sustainable, and green. It is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability. The aim is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility,” explained the girls.
To realize their Cornerstone project, the two students conducted extensive research throughout the year about the negative effects the apparel industry has on the global environment, and in countries such as their home country of China. Their conclusion: there is a growing need to reduce industrial pollution, such as chemicals and dyes, from the manufacturing of textiles and clothing.
To help tackle the issue, the duo took fashion design into their own hands. Using recycled fabrics, accessories, and used clothing items, they set out to create their own clothing line. They combed the internet and local thrift stores for curtains, bed sheets, blankets, buttons, zippers and other accessories they could re-purpose to make new clothing items, and for used clothes that they could redesign. “Reusing fabrics will help reduce the pollution caused by textile manufacturers, and redesigning old clothes into new ones will reduce the amount of clothing dumped in landfills,” explained the girls.
The Capstone for seniors and the Cornerstone for underclassmen are Storm King Signature Courses which encompass large-scale, year-long research assignments culminating in a year-end presentation to faculty and the school community. During the 2017-2018 school year, the students were able to apply their learning from other academic courses and demonstrate their command of essential skills – namely strategic reading, research, problem-solving, collaboration, use of technology, report writing, and oral presentation skills through their team projects.