Jessica Browning created her first garment for Rubbish Renewed as a 7th grader in 2014. Since that time, her complexity of design has soared. When I think of Jessica as a designer, its her masterfully marrying sustainable stories with intricate material manipulation. Learn more about Jessica and her vision in this designer profile.
RR: What do you do in real life when you are not designing?
JB: I am a manager at Joanne Fabrics as well as a full-time college student pursuing a transfer of Arts degree. I hope to become an illustrator. When I’m not working or at school, I spend my free time drawing and sewing. I run a business through Etsy where I make and sell dice bags (for players of dungeons and dragons). I also enjoy playing Magic the Gathering with my friends and playing video games when I have the time.
RR: How did you become a trash fashion designer?
JB: Going to REALMS for middle school taught me a lot about climate change and sustainability. It became something I was really interested in. When I heard there was a chance for kids to make creations and show them on a runway, my mind was blown. Not only did I have a chance to create something amazing, but it also showcased something I care about. The first two outfits I made were… interesting to say the least. They weren’t technically my creations. It was a collaboration between my brain and my mom. Finally, she gave me the sewing machine and said your turn. From then on, I have made and modeled my garments and it’s always the highlight of my year.
RR: What inspires your creations?
JB: When creating a garment, I don’t really go for just anything. It takes a while to brainstorm materials. I have always tended to drift towards plastic things: Plastic bags, newspaper bags, chip bags, sandwich bags etc. Single use plastics. I gravitate towards these because out of everything someone can do to help and be more sustainable is to cut these single use plastics. There are so many better fabric alternatives. Oregon has taken a great step in fixing this with its ban on plastic bags. So, it’s usually the story behind a material that inspires my creation. A great example is my dress titled Plastic Ocean. I had gone to the beach, one of my family’s favorite spots, and was disappointed by the amount of garbage I found. I took a garbage bag and picked up pieces as we walked along. Then I made them into a dress!
RR: Describe your design process?
JB: Once I have my material it gets to my favorite part, designing! I sketch up several designs taking in the give of the material and how it will lay. Thinking of different ways to manipulate it. Once I decide on a design I start to create!
RR: What is something you want to share with aspiring trash fashion designers?
JB: You are never too young! You might need a lot of help and guidance, but if you are determined then your only limit is your imagination. So, shoot for the stars! Find something you are passionate about and create!