MIAMI – Here is a sobering fact: Right now the United States throws away up to 11.3 million tons of textile waste each year. That’s about 2,100 pieces of clothing every second of the day. Is it any wonder that our addiction to fast fashion is one of the biggest contributors to pollution on the planet?
Pangea Kali Virga, a fashion designer who is a Fountainhead Arts resident in Miami, is part of a new sustainability movement working to change that. Recently, the Fashion Institute of Technology grad met with a group for a workshop at the Mana Common in downtown Miami
The fiber artist said the sewing and mending activity was more than just a class in couture. It was a boot camp for a group of new recruits in the war against fashion waste.
“You can see all of the tiny scraps, even the tag has a bunch of little tiny scraps that you would normally not even consider as part of the design.”
According to the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry is the planet’s third-largest polluter with the average person throwing away 70 pounds worth of clothes every year. To change this, she is committed to upcycling.
“Without a doubt, I think a circular economy or circular production is really vital for achieving a better future — one that’s more equitable and environmentally friendly.”
For her fashion line, she said she crafted each of her one-of-a-kind pieces with recycled materials that are all sourced in this community including defective T-shirt scraps and someone’s great-grandmother’s bridal trousseau linens.
“Sometimes I’ll hold on to materials for multiple years until there’s like, that ‘Aha moment!’”
Through her free monthly workshops and clothing swaps, she inspires and engages fashion lovers to not only reexamine their buying habits but also to extend the life of their existing threads.
“I think our responsibility should be a holistic one where we consider the things that we buy when they were produced, and also after we’re done and have discarded them. I think fashion can really be a channel for change”
Pangea Kali Virga wants everyone to make a commitment when they buy a piece of clothing.
“It is a commitment because it is going to stay on this planet, even when you’re done with it ... When you think about your legacy, do you want it to be a bunch of trash?”
Pangea Kali Virga is also a fan of third-party providers like Rent the Runway. She also has a challenge for Halloween: Put creativity to the test instead of just buying another costume.