Story by: Isabel Varela | Edited by: Taylor Engle
It has almost been two months since the launch of my first annual event, Clothes Minded, and I want to give you a recap of this exciting and revolutionary day.
Clothes Minded 2018 is a collaborative multimedia art exhibit created to raise awareness on the malpractices of the fashion industry. My mission with this annual work of art is to continue to teach both the public and the industry itself about the psychological and physical effects that fashion has on humanity and the environment.
I combined my love of art, fashion, and environmentalism to develop this interactive exhibit, pulling from old fabrics, my history with a shopping addiction and severe debt, and my personal experiences as a double minority in the fashion industry.
10: In a world where so many consumer products go to waste, I wanted to create a visual that blatantly and mainly represents the damage we are doing to our environment by continuing to live wastefully. These dress forms were created sustainably and locally by Andy’s Dress Form in NYC. I pulled 65 garments from my wardrobe I wasn’t using and divided them into 10,000 square pieces, signifying how much of a slave I was to consumerism for the past 20 years of my life. The male dress form represents the depths of the ocean, while the female dress form represents landfills and all of the toxic trash on our earth.
Inclu-Life: Since the age of 10, I’ve loved fashion. But for as long as I can remember, fashion has not been inclusive. I see fashion as a form of art, and art is supposed to be democratic. It’s supposed to be for everyone, no matter your race, gender or pants size. My own morals and beliefs were put to the test one day when I was criticized for not using more “professional” models, versus the real women I’ve always used to represent my brand. From that day on, I made sure that my brand’s values would not only be to help the environment, but to empower others. Every single person is beautiful exactly as they are, and we all have different qualities that make us so. By combining all of our incredible abilities, we are stronger.
Fashion Addict: From the age of 15, I was addicted to the most intoxicating and perfect drug: fashion. As anyone suffering from an addiction, I had low self-esteem and self-worth. I chose to drown my dark thoughts and inner-sadness with the latest trends (represented here by the clothing wall created by Cheyenne Sykes and the 6-part video series filmed and produced by Johnathan Vargas), thinking if I looked okay on the outside, I’d feel okay on the inside. With instant-gratification comes an instant-letdown, and before I knew it, I was stuck in a vicious cycle and under an amassing pile of debt. I was completely addicted, and found professional help. My life coach inspired me to become the person I am today, a healthy fashion advocate. This dark side of the fashion industry is rarely spoken about, which is what compels me to tell my story. As I improved my mental health, the clothing wall gets smaller, and the love I have for myself is finally recognized as important, and necessary.
While a lot of challenges came with creating this project, so did a lot of victories. This event was an entirely new concept, and the people who helped bring it to life all faced hardships because nothing like this had been done before. Andy’s Dress Form had never built a 10-foot mannequin. My patternmaker had never previously scaled a garment. I had never before designed a 10-foot garment, let alone a sculpture. Clothes Minded definitely took a village, but it was a village filled with determination, innovation and the willingness to bring this concept to the world
Clothes Minded was not only a difficult physical process but a harrowing mental journey that forced me to face my past, both head-on and publicly. The whole event was an incredibly personal and vulnerable look into the life of a fashion addict-turned-advocate. Reliving certain experiences in my past allowed me to look back and forgive myself. I cannot share my story without self-forgiveness, growth and a desire to help others, and this project awarded me all three.
The goal is to continue to hold annual events, educational workshops to empower youth, and to remind you that you are GOOD ENOUGH, with or without the clothes you choose to wear.
My next step is to tour with my exhibition, lending me the opportunity to share my story and my brand’s mission with as many people as I possibly can. Please subscribe below to keep up with the latest news!