This Capsule Collection Was Created From Old Water Bottles From Flint, Michigan

Tracy Reese 1 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese collaborated with artist Mel Chin to create a collection inspired by "the resilience of Flint."

Fashion designer Tracy Reese's new project is once again tackling a social issue near and dear to her heart.

After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, she used her fall 2017 fashion presentation to stage a poetry reading of empowering feminist literature. Now, the designer has created a collection inspired by the resilient residents of Flint, Michigan, who have been dealing with the effects of the water crisis that first hit their community in 2014.

Reese, whose designs have been worn by Meghan Markle, Sarah Jessica Parker and Michelle Obama, joined forces with artist Mel Chin, contributing a small capsule collection to his new exhibition, All Over the Place, which features 70 works, and addresses issues of social awareness and representation. Reese's capsule, called Flint Fit, as well as the rest of Chin's exhibition, will be on view at the Queens Museum beginning April 8. 

Reese's contribution to the project began back in 2017, when more than 90,000 water bottles from Flint residents were transported to North Carolina, where they were transformed into fabric by sustainable manufacturer Unifi. The pieces were then sewn together using recycled plastic fibers at the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center back in Flint. 

"For me, the design process always starts with textiles, so designing into options that Unifi was able to create from the Flint water bottles was central to the concept," said Reese in a statement. "The twill fabric is perfect for rainwear and is perfect as protection from the elements. It's sturdiness and industrial appeal also recall Flint's manufacturing background." 

Water inspiration shone through in the coloring as well as the wet look of a particular vinyl fabric. "We dyed polyester jersey a gorgeous watery cerulean color for swimwear which is a cool contrast to the rainwear," said Reese. "The vinyl detailing symbolizes reflection, reflections in water and reflections on the current Flint situation."

The collection, sadly, will not available to shop, however Reese hopes that the process will soon be able to be used to produce a commercial product.

Girlfriend Collective, the direct-to-consumer workoutwear brand based in Seattle, makes its products from a material using recycled water bottles; Stockholm-based Gant, too, uses upcycled plastic to create the fabric for its Beacons Project shirting line. And eco grandaddy Patagonia has been using recycled soda bottles to make fleece since 1993.

We'll drink to that.