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Models to Strut in Eco-Conscious Designs on High Bridge Catwalk

 Eco Fashion in the Park will take place on August 2 on the newly re-opened High Bridge.
Models to Strut Eco-Conscious Designs on High Bridge Catwalk
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The High Bridge will go from pedestrian walkway to designer runway this summer.

On Aug. 2, the High Bridge will play host to Eco Fashion in the Park, a fashion show and clothing swap event that will highlight sustainable designs.

The event has previously been held in Highbridge Park, but for the first time this year the models will use the recently re-opened High Bridge as a quarter-mile-long catwalk suspended between Manhattan and the Bronx.

“What designer is not going to be excited about having that bridge as a runway,” said Gina Constanza, the event’s organizer.

Constanza, 44, is a stylist who became interested in sustainable clothing after working on fashion segments for a few television shows in the Dominican Republic in 2009.

“I used to see how the hosts were so involved with the idea of not wearing the same clothing twice,” she said. “I was like what do you mean? What do you do with the pieces afterwards?”

Constanza started to focus her segments around how to style one piece for several different looks. She also started to research what happens to clothing once people dispose of them.

After learning that only roughly 15 percent of post-consumer textile waste is recycled each year, leaving the rest to build up in landfills, she wanted to educate others.

“I started doing my research about what happens, where the clothes go and I thought, we have to do something about this,” she said.

Constanza came up with the idea of an eco-conscious fashion event and worked in conjunction with City Councilman Ydanis Rodrguez’s office to organize the first show, which took place in 2011.

This year’s show will feature pieces by five independent designers who focus on sustainable fashion.

Iliana Quander designs one-of-a-kind pieces for women, while Bridget Artise up-cycles vintage clothes to create new pieces. Both designers have worked on The SMARTER* Clothing Project, which tries to educate the public and other designers about sustainable fashion.

Other designers include Tom Sohung, who creates women’s fashions using men’s ties and shirts; Sarah Bacchus, who works with only natural fabrics and Martin Polanco, a Dominican-born designer.

Visitors are also invited to bring gently used items of clothing to share at a clothing swap boutique. A stylist and tailor will be on-hand to help audience members restyle their old items or perfect new finds.

Any leftover items will be donated to Wearable Collections, a New York City company that works to keep textiles and shoes out of landfills.  

Constanza said they’ve already received more than 300 RSVPS for the event, which makes her think she is doing something right.  

“It’s one of those things that you love it so much and when you see other people get excited about it, you think, ‘I’m really onto something here.’”

The event will take place on Sunday, Aug. 2 from 3:30 to 6 p.m.