Housing Office of Sustainability hosts sixth annual fashion show

Just Bag It Fashion Show kicks off Earth Month

More stories from Elizabeth Gosling



Each outfit submitted to the Just Bag It Fashion Show must be created out of recycled or repurposed materials. This year’s show is 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29 in the Ojibwe Ballroom in Davies.

Repurposing waste into art can be a challenge. The Housing Office of Sustainability is putting students up to the test.

The Just Bag It Fashion show is taking place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 in the Ojibwe Ballroom in Davies Center. The show is open to all UW-Eau Claire students, and although those who enter the competition are encouraged to submit the description of their pieces early, last-minute submissions are accepted.

Since it started in 2010, the competition has grown each year to the point of cancellation one year because it outgrew the venue.

Previously, the show allowed only students who lived on campus, and it took place in the Towers Hall commons. After expanding, the show takes place in the Ojibwe Ballroom, which has better acoustics, lighting and gives the opportunity to play music, said Kate Hartsel, housing office of sustainability coordinator.

Hartsel came up with the idea for Just Bag It, but she said other universities and even the TV show “Project Runway” have done projects like this.

“I was looking for something that would be a really fun kind of thing that would get students maybe interested and get their excitement, build around it and do something a little bit splashy,” Hartsel said.

The event seeks to spread a more serious message as well. According to ecowatch.com and

Hartsel, the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters, after the petroleum chemical industry.

During the show, a slideshow presents information about the industry and further promotes awareness of sustainability on campus.

“I thought it was a nice combination of something that was fun and interesting, but also really has a more serious message behind it, about repurposing,” Hartsel said. “The idea that we throw so much away in our culture, this consumer culture, that is really so profound.”

Ashlea Orth, intern for the Housing Office of Sustainability, is the coordinator of this event and submitted a design last year. Her dress, which she made by herself, was made from expired condoms and condom wrappers. Although she did not receive a prize, she said it was a lot of fun.

Traditionally, three awards are given, starting at $200 for first prize, $100 for second and $75 for third. This year, thanks to Orth, there is a new award up for grabs: the People’s Choice Award, worth $25. Hartsel said it is not a fourth place, but an award for the design the audience likes the most.

“It just makes it more fun. Everybody’s cheering, we have had people make pom-poms out of newspapers and cheer for their group and some people hold up signs, there is a lot of audience participation,” Hartsel said.

Entries are evaluated based on a 20-point scale by four judges who are either community members or Eau Claire faculty or staff. Criteria is based upon creativity and innovation, execution, the number of materials used and presentation. Each entry must have a model, who walks while the description of the outfit is read.

The vast majority of the show is student-produced and even students who do not participate in the fashion show have helped in some way. This year, Audacious, a university a cappella group, will be performing. It is also part of an internal competition within the residence halls, called “Caught Green Handed.”

Just Bag It Fashion Show is made possible through the Housing Office of Sustainability and the Student Office of Sustainability.