As her final semester winds down and summer closes in, business senior Carly Muchow is cooking up a last-minute effort to leave her legacy at Belmont: a new student organization called the Sustainable Fashion Initiative.
“Better late than never,” said Muchow, calling its first meeting into order March 31.
Looking to advocate for big industry changes, the students behind the Sustainable Fashion Initiative want to build a community around eco-friendly education — and above all, a shared passion for fashion.
Though she’s always been a big-time thrifter, Muchow first dove deep into sustainable fashion during quarantine after getting into hand embroidery.
The joy of customizing her own clothing sent her down a rabbit hole of research into the fashion industry. She honed in on the issue of fast fashion — cheaply made clothing lines that feed off of fleeting trends — and felt called to take part in the sustainable fashion movement.
Impassioned, Muchow adopted a fashion minor and reenvisioned her future. After her May graduation, she aspires to work on “the business side of a sustainable fashion company.”
Wanting to get a head start on her new dream, Muchow sought out opportunities to connect with students who shared this passion on campus, but she realized Belmont offered nothing outside the fashion major and minor programs. So, she decided to take the matter into her own hands.
Muchow teamed up with fashion design sophomore Isabella Cabrera to form the Sustainable Fashion Initiative, a club for fashion-forward and eco-conscious students looking to learn, build community and raise awareness about sustainable fashion on campus.
Sustainable fashion is the way of the future, and with a campus full of artists who dress to express, Belmont seems the perfect place to charge the movement, said Cabrera, the organization’s vice president.
“I do think on this campus there are a lot of people who enjoy fashion. I can tell that just by walking around campus, and I think it’s important that people know how the industry is and how we can help,” she said.
Muchow, the president of the initiative, knows sustainable fashion can be kind of a “downer” topic.
“The fashion industry is one of the leading industries that pollutes the planet behind energy and agriculture, and I think that is so sad,” Muchow said.
However, Muchow hopes to put a “positive spin” on the subject by hosting forward-thinking and interactive events.
“I don’t want this to be some club where we sit in a classroom,” she said.
Muchow plans to host a documentary screening sometime in April as the Sustainable Fashion Initiative’s first big event. Other activities on the drawing board include clothing swaps, charitable clothing drives, mending classes, chats with guest speakers, letter-writing campaigns and more.
Until these events get on the calendar, Muchow and Cabrera are focused on growth. Any student can join, not just fashion majors and minors, and they can be as involved as they want to, said Muchow.
Muchow and Cabrera believe there’s power in numbers whether it comes to leveraging cool opportunities on campus and in improving the fashion industry at large.
Soon, these student leaders hope to see the Sustainable Fashion Initiative become a flourishing campus community, as well as a force for change.
“The best way for us to make progress, to make the fashion industry more sustainable as consumers, is by making small changes and expecting the same from larger companies,” said Muchow.
The Sustainable Fashion Initiative seeks to be one of these small changes, and it hopes to inspire small changes in the daily lives of its members. Plus, it hopes to make implementing these changes loads of fun.
Saving the planet might be sustainable fashion’s goal, but reaching it doesn’t have to be a crushing responsibility full of doom and gloom. Muchow prefers to see sustainability as a chance to get creative, connect with others and live more mindfully.
The Sustainable Fashion Initiative gives Belmont students the opportunity to do just that — so stay tuned.
In the meantime, while they work to secure a date for the documentary screening, Muchow and Cabrera suggest students get curious. Research brands, get creative with your closet and shop Nashville’s plethora of thrift and consignment stores when you need something new.
There’s no way to be a perfect consumer, said Muchow, but there are plenty of ways to become a better one. Getting involved with the Sustainable Fashion Initiative might just be a great way to start.
Students can follow @belmont.sfi on Instagram for more information.
PHOTO: Belmont Sustainable Fashion Initiative
This article was written by Meagan Irby.