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Uptown Youth Group Turns Recycled Goods into Fashionable Threads

By Nigel Chiwaya | May 1, 2014 3:02pm
  Newspapers, boxes and chip bags have been repurposed as outfits for FYI's Fashionista event.
FYI's Recycled Outfits
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Members of an uptown youth group will sashay across an Inwood lounge in recycled clothes Saturday afternoon as part of Fresh Youth Initiatives' third annual Fashionista event.

The showcase, which takes place at Opus Lounge at 417 West 202nd St., will feature more than 30 dresses and outfits made by FYI students out of old papers, tape and other discarded materials.

"A lot of the fabrics and material are reclaimed newspapers, juice boxes, potato chip wrappers, everything you can imagine reinvented," said FYI spokeswoman Maria Herrera. "It's very haute couture-inspired."

The materials were collected by FYI students, all between the ages of 9 and 15, for weeks. Then, under the guidance of FYI instructor and High School Fashion Industries graduate Fatima Guzman, the students spent two months producing the clothes.

The outfits will be modeled by 16 FYI students who will perform choreographed moves down the runway.

It will be "a beautifully choreographed show, with fashion that the tweens and teens have designed themselves," Hererra said.

This is the first show to take place at the Opus Lounge, and Herrera said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez's office helped secure the venue for the performance.

FYI's mission is to engage children in community-building activities while guiding them through their teenage years — including providing academic support to ensure they finish high school. While a fashion show might not sound educational, Herrera said the staff has seen the benefits.

"We've had principals come and tell us that memorizing sequencing and choreography on the runway helped them with math," Herrera said. "The fact that they learn how to walk and hold their heads high, that brings leadership to them without them even realizing it."

The 2 p.m. show is free to the public. To RSVP email fguzman@freshyouth.org.