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Wan Yunfeng: How a Chinese designer turns plastic trash into high fashion to create awareness towards environment


If we ask, how you will recycle or reuse plastic and other non-biodegradable waste, perhaps your answer will be by creating an artistic project. Or otherwise, you may be using those disposable bottles to make pen holders or makeshift vases. But, have you ever thought that a fashionable outfit can also be made using these waste materials.

Now the new age designers have come up with the idea of using trash material to create fashionable outfits keeping in mind the sustainability and environmental protection; which is called 'Trashion'.

Trashion, means "turning trash into fashion" is a new term for art, jewellery, fashion and objects for the home created from used, thrown-out, found and repurposed elements to save our environment.

Wan Yunfeng, a Chinese artist and known fashion (Trashion) designer  makes head-turning “clothes” from trash that's fit for the best runways around the world; he is trying to create awareness towards environmental issues in a rather unconventional way.

His distinctive gowns and traditional Chinese dresses are crafted from plastic waste draped and twisted around his body. He photographs himself in these costumes to send a message about environmental protection. Wan uses commonly found plastic waste including polythene, bottles and bags. Despite he is a designer, he is also a performance artist, he self modeled and shoot these pictures.

Each piece of dress that he wears is made all by himself. In his photo series, titled "Protection of the Ocean", Wan has used commonly found single-use plastic wastes, such as plastic bottles, polythene bags, and plastic ropes.

In this photoshoot Wan appeared himself entangled in nets and plastic waste, his tortured facial expressions designed to mirror the pain of trapped, ocean animals. The main purpose of this photoshoots is to give people a much-need reality check. Though his creations are not something that can be worn in daily life; they sure do make a remarkable statement.

Explaining this creation, Wan wrote on his Instagram- "The materials used in the dirty organs on my head were made from the marine debris I picked up at the beach and in the sea, the ropes that were discarded on the rotten nets in the sea. It is also one of the materials in the "Protection of the Ocean Series-1" that I just designed. The harm caused by marine garbage really shocked me".

"I make clothes to bring awareness to the environment, it is performance art. So of course you can't wear these clothes in daily life, it is to deliver a message of environmental protection," he said.

“I ask for materials from everyone. Some come from my daily life, some come from my friends. I also travel globally. I go to some antique markets and flea markets to buy things. You need to make it beautiful.” says Yunfeng.

Wan has posed in his creations in some of the world's famous fashion cities including Paris and New York. Some of his work has a more modern edge, as seen in "Crazy IKEA," a series of images taken in New York's Times Square. Yunfeng made a dress using Ikea's trademark blue coloured shopping bag.

As per their sustainability filings for the year 2017, Ikea group and its subsidiaries produced a total of 590,254 tonnes of waste, of which about 70 per cent was reusable. But here's the catch - that figure also included the waste that was sent for incineration which generated power.

At the same time, in Paris he repurposed an old quilt into a rather majestic gown that had a heavy Victorian aesthetic.

In his apartment in Beijing, the Chinese artist collects tons of used plastic items, pastel-orange roller skates, ram's skull and tangled rope which he eventually uses to create these gowns or a call for animal protection. The self-taught designer draws inspiration from both Chinese as well as Western culture.   

"I just have to protect our environment. I just believe that everyone should work to protect our environment, don't you think? If even just one person is influenced by me, I should do it".

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