By Savannah Huls
Mackenzie Hotchkiss, a recent graduate of Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., designed and created a sustainable cork skirt for her high school fashion classes. Hotchkiss, 18 at the time, began making the skirt during the end of her junior year in her honors fashion class and completed it at the beginning of her senior year in AP Fashion, as part of an assignment to create a repurposed garment. She was told to take an unusable object and turn it into something usable.
Hotchkiss was unknowingly being inspired for her soon-to-be design even before it was assigned. She was working in a restaurant, where she continually observed corks being removed from wine bottles and then being placed in a glass jar for decoration purposes.
“[The jar] started getting very full, and we never really used them, so there was really no purpose,” she says.
The teen explains that she was immediately motivated to use those same corks upon being assigned the repurposing project, although cork is not a textile many people would attempt to work with.
To make the actual skirt, Hotchkiss began by drilling a hole through each individual cork with a power drill. She then strung floral wiring through each hole in order to firmly hold the corks together. She completed the skirt by focusing on its visual aspects, by arranging the corks in a layered pattern and attaching old brass buttons to the ends of the wiring.
In total, she used more than 100 corks to complete the skirt.
Hotchkiss explains that sustainability is a concept she has been getting into more recently, realizing “how much stuff we throw away and how much stuff is actually usable.”
In creating the sustainable skirt, she became mindful of the importance of taking care of the Earth and its natural environment.
“What we choose to put in the Earth is the quality we receive back,” she says, explaining that she makes it a goal to aid in sustainability by participating in things such as picking up glass and avoiding single-use straws.
Hotchkiss is continuing to pursue her passion this fall at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. And after becoming aware of the many possibilities of incorporating sustainability in fashion during her high school career, she plans on continuing to use repurposed materials in her future pieces. Ultimately, she hopes to start her own fashion company or have the opportunity to travel and learn about the many different aspects of fashion around the world.
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Savannah Huls is an Arizona-raised writer, traveler, and outdoor-enthusiast working as an editorial intern for Green Living Magazine. She is in the process of completing her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and plans on continuing on to receive her master’s in global journalism. She hopes to one day be able to travel the world and collect stories in order to pursue her passion for writing.