PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A team of Bradley University students used their senior capstone project to highlight the ethical issues behind the fast fashion industry.

Fast fashion is the practice of making cheap, trendy clothing as quickly as possible to meet demand, typically utilizing cheap labor overseas.

Anna Wasko is a senior public relations student at Bradley University in Peoria. She said fast fashion brands make clothing that is only meant to be worn a few times and then discarded. This causes a plethora of environmental problems.

“It was really to create awareness, like, ‘Where are your clothes from?’” Wasko said. “There are a lot of issues and impacts that come with fast fashion that so many people are aware of and do not understand, so that’s really what we were trying to stress throughout this campaign.”

 Wasko said the project needed to include partnerships with one for-profit and one non-profit organization. Their campaign included Fashionably Late, a consignment shop in Peoria’s Junction City shopping plaza. They also partnered with South Side Mission as their nonprofit.

According to a Bradley spokesperson, part of the team’s campaign included setting up a bin in the student center, so students could donate their worn clothes to Southside Mission instead of throwing them away.

The project culminated in a fashion show featuring outfits from Fashionably Late.

“The goal of the fashion show was just to show where you can buy these clothes, how much they can be bought for, and that you can buy cute, affordable clothing that isn’t from SHEIN, that isn’t from RomWay, that isn’t supporting these fast fashion trends,” Wasko said.

For their efforts, Wasko and her teammates won the “Fall 2021 Ebeling PR-ize™.”

A press release from the university stated, “Created by Bradley alumnus Chuck Ebeling and faculty member Ron Koperski in 2004, the Ebeling PR-ize™ is a competitive program among Bradley’s senior public relations students in their capstone course.”

“A lot of tears went into this project, I’m not gonna lie,” Wasko said.

She said the award showed her and her teammates that in the end, all their hard work paid off.

“Our event went fantastically, we couldn’t have asked for anything better, everybody who participated and helped throughout was wonderful,” Wasko said. “We had great clients, it was a great experience doing something that was related to something I can do in the real world.”

Besides giving her experience in the field of public relations, Wasko said she now looks at the fashion industry with a completely different perspective.

“I’m not gonna lie, I was a SHEIN shopper, I was a ROMWE shopper. I would try to find the cheapest tank top I could buy. But now I am like ‘I can go to Goodwill and find that, I can go to a thrift store, a little consignment store, a local store; support a local business.’ It might be something that has been worn before, but now it’s not sitting in a dumpster. Now it’s not sitting in our landfills. My shopping has definitely changed since this campaign.”

Anna wasko, BRADLEY UNIVERSITY SENIOR

More information about fast fashion can be found here: