Student-made fashion hits the runway at BHS fashion show


Bursts of color, imagination, and applause filled the Ciel Creative Space in West Berkeley last Friday night as more than 50 models walked the runway at Berkeley High School’s Sustainable Fashion Show. Over 400 students, family, and friends turned out to watch the models show off their unique flair, wearing outfits made by BHS student designers. The outfits were made from upcycled clothes, thrifted items, and new materials. From the intricate reworks of traditional clothes to designs pushing the boundaries of fashion, the show was a display of self-expression and creativity.

The third annual fashion show not only highlighted creative, eco-friendly outfits, but also promoted sustainable practices and reducing the environmental footprint associated with so-called “fast fashion” — the cycle of buying new items that contributes significantly to carbon emissions and other climate-related problems.

“We usually ask that people make their things by upcycling old clothes,” said Maya Widholm, a BHS senior who helped organize The Fashion Show and designed some of the clothes. “They might cut off a sleeve or make it into shorts, and other people used fabrics from thrift stores and bought second-hand fabric.” 

Another designer and organizer of the event, Isabel Rodriguez Gerstein, also a senior, used donated fabrics from a BHS teacher to create her pieces of clothing. Alongside the show, student artists also sold their work. 

The fashion show is a fundraiser for Remake, an organization whose mission is to put an end to poor treatment of garment workers. About 93 percent of fashion brands don’t pay garment workers enough to lead a healthy life. And of the 74 million garment workers globally, 80 percent are women of color, and many are also disproportionately affected by floods and heat from climate change in the regions where they work.

Calliope Cameron, a BHS freshman who attended The Fashion Show, was very impressed by the designs, “I really enjoyed going to the BHS fashion show,” she said, “I went to shoot for my photography class, and I didn’t expect for it to have a big impact on me, but I was blown away by the creativity of the designers. Some of the outfits were incredible, and I definitely felt inspired to continue to support thrifting and local fashion.” 

The event was supported by the BHS Development Group, which aims to support and strengthen the educational experiences of all BHS students. 

Widholm and Rodriguez Gerstein also organized last year’s show, but neither plan to pursue a career in fashion. However, they say other students who participated have been inspired and are planning to go to fashion school.