From \"Trash\" to Treasure through Creative Play

Sustainable Fashion, Electrifying Music, and Glow-in-the-dark Body Art at Plug-in-city for DDW 2023

Independent creatives and experts with diverse superpowers gathered on the second day of Dutch Design Week 2023 to delight Eindhoven locals and visitors of the city with Upcycling Aperitivo: an immersive experience at the intersection of textile upcycling, creative empowerment, and party playtime.

Visual storytelling by Octophina, aurtistico, and Yeugeniia Skydan.

Connect. Create. Collaborate.

Almost 20 collaborators from around the world came together on October 22 in the heart of Strijp-S to co-host a free community empowerment event for sustainable fashion, amazing music, delicious food, and glow-in-the-dark body art.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

From Dream to Reality in a Month (and no Funding!)

In late September free-time artist, part-time data diva, and full-time bipolar dreamer Chiara invited me to become a part of an upcycling event with an open concept that she wanted to organize in Plug-in-city.

I had been secretly dreaming about releasing my first collection of pre-loved wearable artworks and this was the perfect opportunity to showcase how playing with old textiles can be not only fun, but also bonding, empowering, and therapeutic.

So, when Chiara shared her idea, I immediately envisioned building an open sustainable fashion playground, teaching people basic skills to give new life to old textiles, and hosting an empowering fashion show. Within a month, we turned our shared vision into reality.

We gathered a wonderful international team of independent creators and on day 2 of DDW 2023 we hosted an event dedicated to upcycling old textiles, enjoying amazing music, and connecting through the power of creativity.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan


Our 8-hour creative marathon included:

  • free open textile upcycling playground
  • sustainable fashion show for empowerment
  • glow-in-the-dark body art sessions
  • expressive movement sessions
  • electrifying tunes by 3 DJs
  • virtual chill-out zone by aurtistico
  • amazing selection of food and cocktails by board of vibes

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

Me and my soul family from the Creative Playclub joined forces with other textile wizards and together we enabled upcycling enthusiasts to give new life to old fabrics and pre-loved clothing.

We gave kids and grown-ups permission to make mistakes, unleash their creativity, and experience the joy of open-ended creative play with no end goal.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

People of all ages created unique wearable artworks out of old, discarded textiles, considered "trash" by their original owners.

All visitors of the event had a chance to participate in an immersive fashion show for empowerment that we called TRASH! as a way to attract attention, trigger an important conversation about the role of fast fashion in environmental pollution, and inspire people to become intentional about how they buy and treat their clothes.

The event was supported by our amazing hosts from Plug-in-city and our main donor of "trash" textiles - Emmaus Eindhoven - a global movement and local organization that gives discarded items and people in need a chance for a new beginning. They provided us with clothing that was going to be destroyed, which we distributed to people for free to use as a wearable canvas on our playground and in our fashion show.

PLAYTIME (2 - 6 pm)

The event started with an open textile playground that gave visitors free access to two creative stations and the chance to learn upcycling techniques from our international team of multidisciplinary experts led by the knot master Elle, the screen printing masters Chiara and Irene, and me.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

Making a Distressed T-shirt with no Previous Experience in <15 Minutes

(Full Video)

People of all ages worked together on multiple projects as they connected, made new friends, and learned to use creative play with old textiles for self-exploration, self-expression, and self-care.

They even had a chance to draw on a white pre-loved couch, provided by our friends from Emmaus, which was the center piece of our fashion show and will be auctioned to support their mission.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

The newest member of our team - illustrator, artist, and writer Eva Sperberg involved her daughter in the creative process and illustrated how upcycling can be a bonding experience for parents and their children.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

Even our talented photographer Yeugeniia Skydan put her camera away and joined the collective creative adventure.

Our tech wizard aurtistico created an immersive virtual chill-out zone, where people could leave a message for the future and engage with tech magic.

SHOWTIME (6 - 7 pm)

While our team was busy turning the textile playground into a party space, all event visitors had a chance to participate in an immersive fashion show (set styling and design by architect and multidisciplinary artist Sandra Liliana Cueva Cortez and myself), which was hosted by another multidisciplinary artist and art therapist - Laura Moler from the Experimentation Project.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

During the fashion show Laura, who had facilitated conversations about the connection between our clothing and our sense of identity earlier, stepped into the shoes of a runway coach. She empowered event visitors and our team to walk with confidence and model the wearable artworks they had created during the day.

Multidisciplinary artist Māris Puķēns, who has been one of the main driving forces behind the Emmaus clothing shop for the last three years, unexpectedly stepped in the shoes of a model and rocked the catwalk in one of the upcycled T-shirts from my TRASH! collection of pre-loved wearable art for empowerment.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

PARTYTIME (7 - 10 pm)

The culmination of our creative marathon was an electrifying glow-in-the-dark party with the hypnotizing visuals of Light Design Artist Corrado Cantoni and the tunes of the amazing DJ Dennis van der Heijden, DJ iEBA (Emmanuel Arthur) and DJ TENTACOOL.

Our chief body artist for the day - engineering student Swedha Sankaranarayanan captured the energy of the evening by creating unique glow-in-the-dark body artworks on everyone, who wanted to become a part of the glow-in-the-dark magic.

From Pain to Power through Creative Play

I became interested in modeling, making clothes, and fashion when I was about 10, but my environment, bullying, and violence squashed my urges and convinced me that I have no business dreaming about this world.

I spent three decades of my life believing that I'm ugly, fat, and have no skills or talent that can help me follow my early childhood dreams of pursuing a path in fashion. It turned out that my path to fashion and my contribution to this world are just unusual and needed the right circumstances to flourish.

I had the privilege to release my first sustainable fashion collection of upcycled pre-loved wearable art for empowerment during Dutch Design Week 2023 - the event that in 2017 changed my life and three years later helped me get off the edge of suicide and rebuild my life after major depression.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

TRASH! - My First Collection of Pre-loved Wearable Art for Empowerment

Having the chance to inspire people from around the world to play with old textiles in a liberating and empowering way, model my first sustainable fashion collection, and then use their outfits as a personal billboard and a chance to own their story, was a dream come true.

Photo credit: Yeugeniia Skydan

The event felt like playtime during an epic party, where all enthusiasts could not only enjoy the ambience, but also choose their own adventure and unleash their creativity.

Upcycling Aperitivo gave everyone involved a chance to connect with like-minded people, practice self-care, embrace upcycling, and adopt creativity as a tool for self-exploration, self-expression, and self-care.

We pulled this off with almost no preparation and no initial plan. And it worked like magic. And now - we want to do it again!

Do you want to become a part of my future events and initiatives for creative empowerment as a visitor or team member?

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