Transforming lives, fashion
By R.F. Hosseini
On April 25th, San Francisco’s brightest up-and-coming fashion minds sent Mother Earth and a few of her most dazzling daughters down the runway.
Dubbed “Transformations: A Fashion Showcase,” the collaborative project paired at-risk youth with aspiring designers to spin high fashion out of environmental responsibility.
Eight fashion students from City College of San Francisco teamed up with eight from Turning Heads, a youth-empowerment organization that teaches entrepreneurship through vocational arts education. The two-person teams were charged with turning reused and recycled garments donated by Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties into eye-popping eveningwear, and given a total of 24 hours over a six-week period to complete their sartorial creations.
Wells Fargo funded the program and, during a two-hour showcase on Wednesday, April 25, hosted the event at its opulent headquarters in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District.
Dozens of attendees, including students, their families, community members, colleagues from CCSF and the Bay Area nonprofit world, and media, gazed with rapt attention as an assortment of models circled the expansive, neoclassical first-floor interior in the completed garments, pausing and striking poses beside poster-sized placards describing what went into the creations.
Turning Heads provides high-risk young women of color with hands-on sewing and fashion design training, as well as lessons in business and entrepreneurship, giving them a range of skills that prepare them for higher education and successful transitions into work. The organization’s students are some of the most underserved in San Francisco, living in neighborhoods with high incidences of poverty, crime, gang activity and violence.
“In 30 years of working in the apparel industry, nothing can compare to what I saw tonight,” enthused Gary Grellman, Goodwill’s chief financial officer. “This event, and the chance to help assist these transformations, really speaks to our motto of ‘seeing the good and growing it.’ We are able to transform lives. It was great to see what our donated clothes can help accomplish.”
Using Goodwill inventory, the partnerships between the CCSF students and Turning Heads participants celebrated the strides made by at-risk youth who are using their love of fashion to improve their lives.
“For CCSF fashion design students, the Turning Heads collaboration presents a wonderful opportunity to fulfill a commitment to community service while honing their design skills under the tutelage of a ‘master instructor,’” offered Diane Green, who chairs the city college’s Fashion Department.
Under a bath of warm, gold lighting, the fashion showcase, which arrived in the middle of Earth Week, highlighted what can be accomplished when environmental conservation intersects with creativity and hard work. The use of recycled fabrics means no new materials were needed to produce the fashion teams’ fresh creations.
“I never thought I could do something like this,” said Turning Heads student Susan Sherman. “This experience helped me realize what my potential can be.”
Sherman is attending San Francisco State University in the fall to study psychology and plans on becoming a trauma counselor. Transformative, indeed.