Upcycled Attitude: Staying Creative During Covid-19
By: Ingrid Yeung
What does it mean to be a fashion student during a global pandemic? Lately, I’ve been asking myself this question a lot. Ever since quarantine started and things began to shut down all around us, I’ve found myself being faced with issues that I don’t have answers for. I am sure I’m not alone in thinking that I truly did not expect to still be working and learning from home after months, while the state of the world remains clouded in so much uncertainty. Nevertheless, this is our current reality, and we must all find a way to adjust and adapt.
As a design major and a fashion hopeful, I found it particularly challenging to make the shift to remote learning. I was accustomed to having access to open studio spaces, sewing machines, and professional dress forms. Without these resources, I had to push my creativity immensely, not only in class assignments but in the way I approached this new life that we were all living.
For starters, I needed to find different methods to explore fashion and learn on my own, without fancy resources. In a way, this opened completely new doors for me. I uncovered an entire world of creativity and inspiration that I already possessed: myself. Whereas before, I was constantly looking elsewhere for my creative outlets, quarantine pushed me to realize that I didn’t necessarily need complex machinery or the highest quality displays to grow as a designer. For the final project in one of my classes, I chose to utilize solely what I had immediate access to in my house, resulting in a dress constructed of torn up paper bags I had steadily accumulated from grocery runs and a design that could only have been born in these circumstances.
This remote reality has also allowed me the time and space to explore other ventures that push my artistry. About a month ago, I decided to upcycle a thrifted handbag by hand painting a custom design on the exterior. I’ve always painted on more traditional canvases, but I felt that this would be a perfect time to attempt something new and thought why not? Handbags are an accessory that’s destined to be put on display, and it seemed like the perfect culmination of aesthetics and functionality in practical art. Since completing my first revamped bag, I’ve decided to use this newfound medium as a way to continue pushing my creativity and explore the purpose that fashion can hold in a society that is gradually straying from the frivolous nature of the industry.