Sustainable Shirley: Solihull Council and Solihull College students team up to fight fast fashion


Solihull Council has teamed up with Parrabbola, Solihull College and University Centre and other organisations to stage a Sustainable Fashion Show in Shirley.

The event will take place in the Red Lion Square at 6:30pm on Friday 12 November and again in Parkgate at 11:30am on Saturday 13 November, coinciding with the final days of the UN COP26 conference in Glasgow.

In the spirit of sustainability, the show will use ‘pedal power’ to run the lighting and equipment using energy from static bikes provided by Electric Pedals.

Students from the College’s design courses have been tasked with presenting two outfits. The first will be styled with pieces from local charity shops to support the high street in a time where many are still recovering from the pandemic. This challenge will have a strong colour story, each colour inspired by a different flower to build on the area’s longstanding association with poppies.

The second challenge will see students take a piece of charity shop clothing and upcycle the garment to breathe new life into it, hoping to encourage the public to be inventive and shop sustainably.

The show, which will support students by counting towards their required 30 hours of work experience, has the potential to become a legacy project for the College.

Cllr Karen Grinsell, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council and Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Sport, said:

“We are very excited to be part of an event like this, which champions sustainable living and aligns so well with Solihull Council’s commitment to combatting climate change.

“The fashion show is part of an initiative by Solihull Council to create a variety of opportunities for local people to engage in different cultural and heritage activities in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games cultural programme.

“It is important to show the residents of our Borough the potential of our high street, and that shopping sustainably does not have to be difficult or expensive.

“After a tough period for brick-and-mortar retail, the students of Solihull College are breathing new life into our High Street and once again proving there are plenty of reasons to Visit Shirley.”

Steve Riley, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Creative Arts & Design Practice at Solihull College & University Centre said:

“The Sustainable Shirley Project is an excellent project for us to be involved with, there are such a diverse range of students working together collaboratively across the department.

“Graphic Design, Fine Art, Media, Photography and Performing Arts students are all taking on different roles, often crossing discipline to contribute to the project overall.

“This cross-pollination is extremely valuable to students aspiring to work in the creative industries, in addition to the hands-on experience of working towards a live event.

“The relationship the College has with the community is very important to us. This project allows us to reach outwards, make links for future projects and encourage our students, not only to think about sustainability, but also to contribute to the local area in a very positive way using their own ideas, skills and talent. It gives them a voice in the world.”

Colin Tonks, Inventor and Director of Electric Pedals, said:

“This event with Solihull College is a great example of how climate education doesn’t need to be serious or preachy, everything we do aims to have fun and community at the heart of it.

“We love collaborating with bright young talents such as the students at Solihull College, and together with Parrabbola we’ve created a fantastic event to show the people of Solihull that renewable and climate-friendly alternatives to fossil fuel and fast fashion are not complicated or inaccessible.

“As always, we’re working the only way we know how – sustainably!”

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