Fourth-Year Swimwear Designer Wins UpCycle Challenge

models in swimwear pose in a line with non models in street clothing
Hannah Myers (center) with models and other contestants. Image credit: Paraiso Miami Beach.

Be sustainable, but make it fashion!

That’s exactly what Hannah Myers, a fourth-year Fashion Design student, did this summer when she won the Paraiso UpCycle Challenge, a national competition that asked students to raise awareness of sustainability by upcycling deadstock fabric from international swimwear designers and using it to create their own swimwear designs.

The challenge was a partnership between the nonprofit organization UpCycle Project and Paraiso Miami Beach. Split into three rounds, submissions of design sketches and applications were completed in May, and in June, five students—Myers among them—were selected to move forward. Myers’s deadstock fabric came from Cynthia Rowley.

Myers, a beach-goer herself, grew up in Bayport, Long Island, and was interested in sustainability, but through this challenge, she learned just how seriously the ocean and aquatic wildlife are affected by pollution. She chose to demonstrate the  impact of pollution through her two swimwear designs. “Fishing nets (ghost nets) make up 46 percent of ocean pollution,” she said. “I wanted to incorporate the imagery of how these nets are suffocating sea creatures, which will ultimately suffocate us.”

After a month of designing and constructing at FIT, Myers and four other finalists were flown by Paraiso  to Miami to present their final looks during Miami Beach Swim Fashion week in July. Each finalist presented two looks and spoke about sustainability in design before a panel of fashion industry judges, and Myers was named the winner.

“Thanks to this challenge,” she says, “I am more aware and educated on the subject and truly want to be an advocate for sustainability in fashion.”

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