The state of Michigan spends about $22,000 a day on bottled water due to the Flint water crisis, Newsweek reports. The crisis began in April 2014, and the city of Flint has been without access to clean water for roughly 1,400 days. Many activists have banded together to raise funds, maintain awareness and directly support Flint residents.
With all that bottled water comes tons of empty plastic bottles. They are horrible for the environment, and in order to recycle the plastic waste, designer Tracy Reese partnered with conceptual artist Mel Chin to implement Flint Fit, a capsule collection created from fabrics made from Flint's empty water bottle byproducts, according to Teen Vogue. The collection will be part of Chin's exhibition, All Over the Place.
Flint residents gathered roughly 90,000 water bottles which were then transferred to North Carolina to be transformed into fabric by Unifi, a textiles company.
"For me, the design process always starts with textiles,” said Reese in a press release. “So designing into options that Unifi was able to create from the Flint water bottles was central to the concept.”
Reese was inspired by the water crisis as well as the resilience of Flint residents. The twill fabric Unifi created is an ode to Flint's manufacturing background, and its plastic past gives it properties that protect from rain and other elements. “I really wanted to showcase the most interesting properties of each fabric,” Reese noted.
“We dyed polyester jersey a gorgeous watery cerulean color for swimwear, which is a cool contrast to the rainwear,” Reese added. “The vinyl detailing symbolizes reflection, reflections in water and reflections on the current Flint situation."
According to Artnet, the garments are sewn at St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, where Flint survivors of abuse and poverty receive education and workplace training.
If you'd like to see the garments for yourself, the All Over the Place exhibition opens to the public on April 8 from 2-5 p.m. at the Queens Museum in New York City. On opening day, there will be a fashion presentation at 3:30 p.m., featuring models and Flint residents involved in the project.