EFE 2018 Fashion Show Review
By: Janette Wu
February 6th 2018
Hey there!! It’s Janette. Just a brief introduction for those who don’t know me. I am one of the cofounders and codirectors of Eco Fashion Expo (EFE) . The main reason why we are writing this is because Melissa, our organizational manager on the EFE team, brilliantly suggested that we put together a 2018 Review for EFE. (I know, I know, it is already February but hey, if we are going off the Lunar New Year—we are right on time!) But in a nutshell, we want to uphold our value of transparency and take you guys along with us through this EFE 2018 journey.
I remember talking to Angela perhaps a month or so after the fashion show last spring. We were both studying abroad in Asia and we caught up in Taiwan over their famous mango shaved ice. Like most conversations, it didn’t take long for one of us to bring up EFE. As we were reminiscing about this surreal experience, we both agreed that the whole show was a big blur that seemed like it had taken place years ago.
The best part of the show? That it was over.
The worst part of the show? That it was over.
I’ll explain: Right after the show, Angela got sick and was bed-ridden for a couple of days and I did what I did best —I slept for a whole 24 hours straight. The moment we finally got out of bed, we were immediately thrown into the finals week abyss. There was absolutely no idle time on our Google calendars to even try to reflect on the 8 months of hard work and effort that we had all put in.
Nearly a year later, there are definitely still many things that I wish we could have done differently, but the thing that I wouldn’t trade for anything else are the people and the memories that came with putting this whole production together.
How does one truly measure the success of a production like this without accrediting the incredible people that made up the backbone of the show?
I still remember frantically running around backstage while simultaneously trying to type out a thank you speech in my phone’s notes app. There was a whole rush of emotions and of course, stage fright got the best of me, so I probably gave some generic speech that is a prime example of what not to do in the “How to give a thank you speech for dummies” Sparknotes book.
So here is a transcript of what the thank you speech would’ve been if I could improvise thoughtful thank you speeches like Angela could:
- To the designers: for being so courageous and open minded to start from ground zero. Y’all crafted a whole sustainable clothing line with second hand clothing and fabric scraps that all revolves around your style and your vision.
- To the models: for breaking down the stigma that models only look like what we see on magazine covers and the media. Each and every one of you guys truly embodied the outfit as if you were born to walk that runway.
- To Makia, Douglas, The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) and Hunter’s Sustainability Project (HSP): for supporting a cause that is greater than ourselves, for believing in us when no one else would, and for unconditionally willing to do whatever it takes to help make this project possible.
- To Tara St. James: for sharing your insights and wisdom about the much needed zero-waste pattern and for being a prominent changemaker in the sustainable fashion industry—Angela and I aspire to follow in your footsteps in this global movement.
- To our sponsors/partnerships (Salvation Army, Chipotle, GreeNYC, Insomnia Cookies): for your generosity and for sharing our wish to build a tight-knit community.
- To Fanny: for producing EFE’s introductory short film that raised the bar and standards for short films everywhere (Angela and I honestly didn’t even get to watch the film until the day of the show when everyone else was seeing it for the first time). Regardless, we never doubted for a second that you wouldn’t deliver anything but your best work.
To Soon-hee: We always joke about this but Soon-hee, are you sure you aren’t actually a wizard?? You were the backbone of the whole backstage, front stage, and everything else in between. There is no problem you can’t fix—I swear one day, I’ll catch you waving that magic wand. There is no way any human could be that gifted and talented.
8. To Sophia: for being the world’s best partner in crime. No challenge or vision is ever too crazy for you to tackle. Not once did you hesitate in lending a helping hand whether that was staying past 2AM at school to put together that masterpiece of an art installation merely two days before the show, or biking up Manhattan’s hills and dodging crazy NYC taxi drivers with an armful of show decorations at 8AM.
9. To Melissa and Madison: for being so patient as well as willing to listen and capture the story behind each designers’ clothing line. Not many people could translate a vision to a beautiful visual production but you guys did it.
10. To Malka and Ariel: for holding down the fort backstage, whipping everyone into shape minutes before the curtains open and of course, for being some of the most reliable people we know.
11. To Iman: for being the most badass eco fashion show host in the history of hosts. For being flexible and accommodating. You remained at the eye of the storm while everything else was spinning into chaos.
12. To our friends and family: for providing all shapes and forms of emotional and physical support. Whether it is helping out with backstage, set up, the breakdown of the event, or even emotional breakdowns—you guys were willing to lend a shoulder to cry on or even simply be there to listen to our pain points when times were rough. We are forever grateful and in debt to each and every one of you (you know who you are).
13. And lastly, and most definitely not least…to Angela: for being 10 steps ahead while everyone is 10 blocks behind. If everyone had a glass of whatever willpower, courage, passion and resilience organic, dairy-free juice that you are drinking every morning—we could solve this whole fashion industry waste problem all within the span of our 10 minutes lunch breaks. You’re the catalyst to this movement and truly a force to be reckoned with.”
The best part is the people that we have met on this journey. I would never want to trade that for anything. I’ll spare you the “It’s not about the destination, it is about the journey” cliche baloney—but in my opinion, both are of equal importance. Whether you are #teamdestination or #teamjourney, I hope that we can meet in the middle and agree that we are all naturally attracted to those who share the same passions and values as we do. These people are all kindling the same flame to bring awareness to an aspect of sustainability that is rarely spoken about.
The only way that I could describe the best parts of this show is by comparing it to putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. I’ll try my best to describe it in a gigantic and probably unnecessary puzzle metaphor so please bear with me here.
The best parts:
- Finding that 1000 piece puzzle at the local thrift shop. As I head out the door, I give it a little shake knowing that I feel driven and ready to tackle this challenge.
- Taking this new baby home and carefully lifting the cardboard box to make sure that no puzzle piece could make a run for it.
- Working together with a team of friends while hovering over a round table trying to piece together the “forest green color” looking piece with the “spinach color” looking piece.
- Hearing the soft click of that final piece of the puzzle and taking a big step back to look at that masterpiece.
The best parts are a combination and multiple variations of these four puzzle-piece stages.
- When we started this project, we had no idea that it would turn into this asdfghjkl (sorry for a lack of a better word but you’ll know what I mean) of a production yet we were certain that we wanted to roam into this new and exciting uncharted territory.
- As the months turned into weeks before the show, the EFE team were extremely careful and meticulous in planning. Although we centered the show around eco-fashion, we didn’t want to ignore the other crucial aspects of sustainability, which is why we were especially conscious of using biodegradable plates and composting the food afterwards. Although we tried to be careful and account for everything, things did end up slipping through our fingers, but we realized that the best approach is to acknowledge the issue and remember to prevent this slip up from reoccurring in the future.
- For the show, we had a really big team of around 40 people including our designers and models. There is something about exchanging and bouncing around thoughts and ideas with a team who are equally as passionate about a project as you are. Whether that is gathering sponsors or manning the backstage area, we all held crucial pieces and roles for this production that would have been incomplete if we didn’t put our minds together for one common goal.
- Those 2.5 hours flew by in a blink of an eye. You really can’t take a big step back to look at all that we have done until the last person leaves the room, the lights turn off and all that is left is the same vacant room that you remember when you first walked in. Then if you listen closely—and I mean really listen closely—you might still hear the shuffling of feet behind the curtains, the tapping of a makeup brush against a palette backstage, and the soft muffles of proud parents who are whispering to nearby attendees, “My son is modeling.”
As for the worst parts…
Sure we may have sacrificed our sleep, academics and a lot a little bit of our sanity. We may have also been extremely frustrated with the tedious paperwork. But from that experience we learned valuable lessons like how to work with others who may not be our cup of tea. But we chugged it anyway—no matter how bitter or piping hot it is. Because at the end of the night, when the curtains closed and lights shut off, those “bad parts” didn’t seem bad after all. We got to take one big step back to finally exhale that big breath of relief after 8 months and say to ourselves, “It was worth it.”