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Apr 6, 2018

Unifi’s REPREVE Takes the Spotlight in Queens Museum Exhibit

When award-winning artist Mel Chin learned about the millions of water bottles being used as a result of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., he knew he wanted to help. The result: a fashion project called Flint Fit, which brought partners in Flint, New York City, and Greensboro, N.C., together in time, function and fashion. Flint Fit is now being featured in Chin’s All Over the Place exhibit at Queens Museum.

In Flint, the water is contaminated with lead, forcing residents to rely upon bottled water for cooking, washing and drinking, creating a never-ending stream of empty plastic bottles. At Chin’s instigation, more than 90,000 used water bottles were collected by the people of Flint over the course of six weeks. Once sorted, the bottles were sent to Unifi, Inc., a textile manufacturer in Greensboro, N.C., where they were cleaned, shredded and transformed into REPREVE recycled performance fiber. The REPREVE fiber was then sent to Mount Vernon Mills and Texollini where it was woven and knit into fabric. Using this fabric, renowned New York fashion designer and Michigan native Tracy Reese designed a capsule collection for Flint Fit inspired by the power and necessity of water, manufacturing history of Flint, and resiliency of the Flint community. Reese’s designs were brought to life by at-risk women in the commercial sewing program at St Luke N.E.W. Life Center in Flint, who sewed the recycled fabric into rainwear and swim garments. These designs are debuting April 8 at the exhibition opening and will be displayed at the Queens Museum’s Watershed Gallery.

“We’re proud to be a part of this exciting moment in art-fashion history,” said Jay Hertwig, Unifi’s Group Vice President Global Brand Sales. “At Unifi, we’re able to transform plastic bottles into REPREVE for products that people enjoy every day, and we’re thrilled that REPREVE is playing a key role in such a positive movement that came from something so catastrophic.”

“By opening the door for new ideas, Flint Fit aims to stimulate creative production, economic opportunity and empowerment on a local scale,” said Chin. The exhibit runs from April 8 to Aug. 12, 2018. For more information, please visit flint-fit.com.