Monday, October 23, 2006
Andy Warhol once said he'd rather hang a dress on the wall than a painting.
Loni Hosking, local fashion designer and owner of Ecoboutiquo, sees fashion as an art form, too. But she'd be damned if her masterpieces weren't worn.
"I've always created bits and pieces of art but I decided I didn't want to make art that just collected dust," Hosking says.
Hence Hosking's own personal clothing line, Loni Bobonny. Each one-of-a-kind piece is spun together from recycled fabrics, clothes and odds-n-ends like used tires, license plates and pop tops.
Hosking sells items she designs alongside clothing and accessories from about 30 other local designers at Ecoboutiquo. The theme behind the store, she says, is recycled fashion.
"Funky and unique has kind of become mainstream. I had to take it that one step a little further," Hosking says about opening her shop.
Recycling is also the theme behind the Nov. 2 "Planet Fashion" event at Liberty Hall. The event, which Hosking organized, revolves around a fashion show of clothing and accessories from downtown stores-Ecoboutiquo (918 Mass.), Wild Man Vintage (939 Mass.), and White Chocolate (1005 Mass.).
- Thursday, November 2, 2006, 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
- Liberty Hall Cinema, 644 Massachussets Street, Lawrence
- All ages / $13
What sews around comes around
But "Planet Fashion," Hoskins says, is about much, much, more than clothes.
"I didn't want it to be all fashion because I thought (feigns yawn) you know, let's bring on some more!" Hosking says. The theme behind it all is, as Equoboutiquo signs exclaim, is "recycle your ass off!"
"The show is to promote recycling, or to thank the community for recycling because we do have a lot of recyclers in Lawrence. Rather than going 'Recycle! Recycle!' I kind of wanted it to be, 'Good job, guys, let's keep it up!'" Hosking says.
"It definitely goes hand-in-hand with my business. If you're thinking in that mindset, that recycle mindset, then you don't hesitate to think about buying a recycled-art shirt."
Out of the landfill and into the store
Sure, clothing and accessories recycled from what many people would consider dumpster fodder may seem, well, trashy. But the wares in Ecoboutiquo aren't derelict chic. They're just chic.
There are dresses pieced together from sometimes-recognizable mass-produced garments from The Gap. There are bracelets hammered out of soda bottle tops. There are handmade soaps, incense, jewelry boxes, earrings, and long, colorful beaded necklaces. The quirky art that adorns the walls is for sale; as are the terra-cotta potted aloe vera plants that line the window sills.
And then there's Hosking's collection of purses and wallets strung together from industrial materials. D&D; Tire Inc. (1000 Vermont), gives Hosking worn-out tires, which she then cuts and pins together to form smooth, supple purses.
Hosking says the inner tubes used to line tractor tires are now "obsolete technology" and usually get thrown out as soon as they wear out.
"The rubber is so individual-each piece is a different thickness," Hosking says. "Some old farmer has patched them 30 times, and I can take them and give them new life."
Right next to those shiny black concoctions hang purses and wallets fashioned from thousands of aluminum pop tops. The material looks more like glimmering chain mail than salvaged garbage.
Hosking says that quirky, handmade accessories have become more popular in recent years. And she predicts that in the next three to four, the recycled clothes and accessories movement will be in full swing.
Tale of two accessories
Fashion-conscious Lawrence citizens are already starting to catch on. Just before her interview for this story, Hosking was ordering her preferred cup from a Mass. Street coffee shop. As she dug through her pop-top coin purse, the 20-something barista behind the counter gasped in admiration, "Where did you get that?"
When Hosking explained that the purse was made from 4,000 recycled pop tops by an artist in Brazil, the barista's eyes widened with "I must have that" in them.
It seems that today, an accessory's history-the story you tell when someone compliments you on it-can be just as important as the accessory itself.
Phil Chiles has turned this growing demand for unique, one-of-a-kind items into a steady business with Wild Man Vintage.
When Chiles started combing thrift stores back in high school, it was the unpredictability of the hunt that spurred him on. Today, he says, thrift stores are much more picked over because more and more people are taking up the hobby.
But this is no trend. Recycled fashion, Chiles says, is here to stay.
"There's always going to be a demand for it because there's so much of it out there and that just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year because people keep throwing it away all the time," Chiles says.
He explains that 100 years ago, clothes were more of an investment. Today, on the other hand, fashion is cheap, disposable.
"You go to thrift stores now and almost everything there is within 5 to 10 years old. People don't hang onto it that long. They don't need to because it's so cheap," Chiles says.
The glut of throwaway clothing tossed out by out throwaway culture has turned into a profitable mini-industry for stores like Wild Man Vintage and Equoboutiquo. And, Chiles says, recycling offers some unexpected peace of mind.
"It really appeals to me," he explains, "the idea that we're reusing clothing that would just be thrown out or turned into rags or sent to South America or something."
Wild Man Vintage will contribute some runway looks for "Planet Fashion." Chiles hasn't decided which clothes will make the cut, but he's thinking hard about incorporating a global theme. Literally. Lately, he says he's been drawn towards globes. He's collected a dozen or so that he's thinking about incorporating into the show. A hat fashioned from the northern hemisphere, perhaps? A purse cut from Antarctica and Australia?
Reclamation of fenderpendence
But recycling isn't just for environmentalists and fashion designers. It's for musicians, too.
Bob Anderson, who will perform during Planet Fashion's pre-party, formed his guitar, which he calls The Green Strawberry, out of recycled materials he found in thrift stores and flea markets. The neck, strings and body are all pieces of broken or forgotten guitars.
When he performs, Anderson plugs into an amp powered by solar energy. He also made it himself, completely from recycled materials.
"I can get the sound from the '60s out of that amp," Anderson says. That's a good thing considering his fondness for Johnny Cash (he's planning on playing some At Folsom Prison songs at "Planet Fashion") Buddy Holly and The Ventures.
Anderson has lived "off the grid" for 10 years. His house, an A-frame out on Lake Perry that he designed and built himself, runs solely on solar energy. Anderson recycles everything from cans to clothes dryers to his beloved instruments in an effort to cut back his consumption of non-renewable resources, an effort that was inspired by a speech President Carter made around 1980. Carter warned America that resources would run out sometime between 1999 and 2015.
"It got a hook in me," Anderson says. He points out that we're smack dab in the middle of that timetable, and things aren't looking good. "Things are coming down fast. I don't say these things to scare people. That has no fruits."
What Anderson can do is perform at recycling-friendly events like "Planet Fashion." Hopefully, he says, people will get interested, maybe learn how to recycle more things or to build a solar panel or two. They cost about $250, he says, if you make them yourself. And once you make one, the rest are easy.
Anderson may haul a few of his solar panels to "Planet Fashion" on Thursday. He's thinking about hooking some jumper cables from the panels to his shoulder and guitar for dramatic effect. But he's not sure yet-people at Liberty Hall may not think that's a good idea. What Anderson can rely on, though, is the solid sound of The Green Strawberry, a guitar that cost him roughly $12 to make.
"I can do more things on this guitar than I can on bought guitars," Anderson says.