Since its inception in 2012, the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show has piqued the curiosity and creativity of our community. There have been 6 Junk to Funk! events featuring 75 unique fashion looks that were created by 68 different artists and presented by 53 different models on the TCA stage. Participants have fully embraced the event, using it as a creative outlet to convey their vision. Imaginations are unleashed, with two participants unveiling “alter egos” live on the TCA stage - that of “Silvino Barrazon III” and “Z.” For others, maybe even you, the event is a little hard to grasp. This raises a few questions. What is the Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show? What elements are needed to create an eco fashion garment? How do you create a successful eco fashion show fundraising event? Or, as the 2015 Junk to Funk! t-shirt design succinctly asked, “What the Funk?”
Junk to Funk! is a fashion show live on the TCA stage, featuring wearable art from recycled items and repurposed materials. Artists create submissions and enlist the help of family and friends to model their creations, or model the outfit themselves. Judges are on hand to dub some special entries with titles such as “Most Innovative,” “Best Use of Recycled materials,” “Most Likely to Appear on the Cover of In Style Magazine,” and “Judges Choice.” Audience members can show their admiration as well, voting on the coveted “People’s Choice” award. Before the show and at intermission, attendees can also bid on silent auction items, including some of the fashion garments themselves. All funds collected by ticket sales and silent auction bids helps the TCA bring high quality entertainers to the TCA stage and help keep costs low for local renter organizations, such as Tecumseh Youth Theatre, Tecumseh Pops Orchestra & Community Chorus, Tecumseh Public Schools, and dance studios from Tecumseh, Adrian, and Brooklyn. We like to have fun while we fundraise and what better way to do that than through creativity.
Eco fashion looks start with a solid foundation from which to cultivate the design. World renowned French fashion designer Christian Dior once stated, "Without proper foundations there can be no fashion." In the history of Junk to Funk!, approximately 80 pieces of repurposed clothing was used as a foundation for some of the creations. Hundreds of pieces of paper materials were utilized, including ticket stock, tissue paper, sheet music, placemats, crepe paper, magazines, newspaper, and Lev’s Bakery Take-A-Number tickets. We’ve seen bags in every shape, size, material, color, and classification - grocery bags, garbage bags, Walmart canvas totes, popcorn bags, Lev’s Bakery carry out bags, Tuckey’s Big Boy carry out bags, and even Friskies cat treat bags. Many alternative materials, such as canvas, burlap, foam, weed barrier landscaping fabric, and a parachute have been used as well. With the groundwork of the design in place, the second element comes into play – materials.
A myriad of repurposed, reused, and recycled materials are an essential element of eco fashion. Almost anything you can think of can be re-imagined and incorporated into a garment, including the curtains from your windows. This is not in jest. To be specific, the TCA stage has seen 25 curtains, drapes, bed sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, shower curtains, and umbrellas used as garment materials. Office supplies also make for great constructing materials, with 6,000 computer keys, 90 cell phone cases and accessories, and over 1,000 rubber bands flaunted on the runway. Where does it end? No one could possibly make kitchen items fashionable, right? Well, think again! Artists have pieced together 200 cups, spoons, paper plates, 300 pop tabs and bottle caps, 70 Capri Sun pouches, 50 chopsticks, 200 wine corks, and an impressive 3,500 coffee filters and tea bags. Throw in some feathers, flowers, vinyl records, clock parts, audio tape, and bind it all together with 3 rolls of duct tape and an immeasurable quantity of staples, tape, glue and we’re on our way to some amazing eco fashion entries!
After creation, each unique runway look begs for an intriguing title. Inspiration for the name often comes directly from the materials in use. Remember the curtains mentioned earlier? They were used to produce works with titles like “Gone With the Wind 2012,” “Gone With the Wind 2013,” “Went With the Wind,” and “Curtain Princess Hero.” Similarly, “Queen of Spoons” featured plastic spoons, “Uncorked” was created with wine corks, and “Duck, Duct, Goose!” made use of duct tape. Tin foil was featured in “Curses, Foiled Again” and audio tape was re-imagined into a garment titled “The 18 ½ Missing Minutes.” The materials used for some garments are slightly more mysterious, with titles like, “Magical Night In Rio,” “The Yellow Explosion,” “Protect Your Assets,” “Stained by the Sea,” and “Morgan’s Mahalo.” Any ideas as to what materials were used? We would love to hear your ideas!
A successful Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show isn’t complete without support from the community. This support comes from local businesses and individual creators. Several local businesses, including Skydive Tecumseh, Tuckey’s Big Boy, Lev’s Bakery, British Tea Garden & Rooftop Café, and Pentamere Winery have all entered submissions for the fashion show or donated materials for their construction by local creators. Many local businesses have donated items for the event’s silent auction and food for the event has been generously provided by Evans Street Station, Boulevard Market, British Tea Garden & Rooftop Café, Danley’s Country House, Tuckey’s Big Boy, Basil Boys, Muk’s Sports Pub, JR’s Hometown Grill & Pub, and Sal’s Italian Restaurant. This event has also been sponsored in the past by Avery Oil & Propane, Promedica Women’s Health Center at Herrick Hospital, and First Federal Bank of the Midwest of Tecumseh, who has sponsored the event all six years.
Creators and models are the heart and soul of the fashion show. The TCA has had submissions by local Tecumseh High School Students, teachers, TCA staff, and TCA volunteer ushers. Of these fantastic artists and models, fourteen of them have participated twice, five have participated three times, one has participated four times, and two individuals have participated in Junk to Funk! a commendable five times. Without the support and participation of these amazing artists, the eco fashion show would not be possible.
Tecumseh Center for the Arts and the eco fashion show are sustained not only by business sponsors, artists, and models, but also by the patrons that attend the event and community members. Attendees of the fashion show support the theater by purchasing tickets and bidding on silent auction items. They also support the creators by cheering for the creations, voting for their favorite submission, and bidding on the garments. Community members who are unable to attend the event can show their support spreading the word about the event – through personal conversation and on social media.
So, “What the Funk” are we doing this for? The success of individual events such as the Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show leads to the success of Tecumseh Center for the Arts and our community. Famous designer Ralph Lauren once said, "I don't design clothes. I design dreams." We believe those who work in theater or the arts inherently possess a similar outlook. We are not in the business of selling tickets. We are in the business of fostering creativity, providing an outlet for free expression, introducing patrons to new ideas, different worldviews, and being a home for acceptance and community. Together, we can all succeed.
This year’s Junk to Funk! Eco Fashion Show fundraiser will take place on Friday, May 3 at 6:00 pm. Deadline for submissions in Friday, April 26 at 5:00 pm. Anyone interested in creating an outfit can click the link below to see photos from past shows and download the call for entries and submission forms. Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased in person at 400 N. Maumee St. in Tecumseh, MI and by phone at 517.423.6617 during Box Office hours Tuesday through Friday from Noon to 5:00 pm. Tickets can also be purchased online anytime at www.TheTCA.org. See you at the theater!