Regularly selling out the Boulder Theater, Common Threads' Recycled Runway features work teenage students design and create with the Common Threads Creative Lab. Wrapping up our RR09 coverage, here are three questions posed Rachel Lubanowski (Gray Tangerine designer, Common Threads Boulder store manager, Recycled Runway mentor, all-around amazing woman) about working with teens who transform trash.
1. What is your favorite thing about working with students at RR?
Since I don't always work with teens (I'm mostly surrounded by adults), I LOVE interacting with them: hearing about what they're learning in school, what their favorite classes are, who they look up to (design and otherwise), and what music they're listening to (I always ask for listening requests when we're in class). When Recycled Runway is over for the year, people always ask "Are you so glad the event is over?" My answer is always that it's bittersweet. Recycled Runway has come to be a big production with lots of moving parts and preparation, but I miss seeing the designers each week. In six weeks, we develop a special bond that is like no other and is something I really cherish.
2. Tell us the story of a design from concept to completion.
Some of the most memorable designs in my eyes have been pieces the designers created with items that show up in their lives (things that are personal). For example, last year a student designer had a friend in her neighborhood who loved making balloon animals. He saved his popped balloons for her, and she created almost her entire look out of popped balloons that were woven into a bodice and made into fringe. This year one of our designers rode horses, and was inspired by the incredibly wasteful feed packaging. She used horse feed bags to create her bodice, pants and hat AND used a horseshoe from one of her ponies as a choker. We are seeing this kind of thinking more and more in "the real world": packages are shipped left and right, and many designers are using packaging materials in their looks. Those bubblewrap mailers are NOT recyclable!
3. What are the biggest challenges to this work and how do students overcome them?
When we're in class, Tanja Leonard (the other co-mentor) and I like to challenge the designers to brainstorm improvements and design ideas on their own. Sometimes it's challenging not to make recommendations that are obvious to us, but it's amazing to see the teens work through things and troubleshoot on their own. One of the biggest challenges is fit: getting a garment made out of things that are not meant to be worn to fit and fit well is no small task. Tanja and I each have ways of helping designers think about how to get a great fit (hers are mainly patterning ideas and mine are draping techniques), but all of the work is completed by the teens. They are always really determined and most spend hours and hours on the details in their looks.
PS: Get involved with Recycled Runway!! View incredible student design work in store over the next few weeks, and learn about how to support/ apply for RR10 here: https://www.shopcommonthreads.com/recycled-runway9/