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A Sustainable Approach to Fashion

Heily Rivas ‘24 BFA
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2023-2024 Student Government Association President Heily Rivas shares how creativity, exploration, (and fabric scraps!) can empower students to change the world.

MassArt senior Heily Rivas has never been one to shy away from getting involved and making an impact. As a member of the MassArt Activities Council Board, she’s helped plan a variety of cultural events on campus. Some of the events she coordinated — including the Latin American Heritage Celebration and the West African Celebration — even featured musical and dance performances from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. In the fall of 2022, Heily joined MassArt’s Student Government Association, and the following year, she was elected as SGA president.

MassArt helps students understand how much power they have — as artists, as designers, as thinkers, and as creative people. Heily Rivas ’24 BFA

During my time as president, it’s been beautiful to see students use their energy and drive to improve their college experience and shape their futures. I think that’s an important part of the MassArt experience. Here, you bring your unique talents and your unique story and amplify them to create a larger message through your work. If you’re interested in coming to MassArt, think about how you can make an impact. Because you’re going to grow here, and you’re going to do great things.

Saving scraps. Scrapping waste.

I came to MassArt knowing that I wanted to do fashion and also work in sustainability, and I’ve been given a lot of space to explore. Lately, my work has centered on fabric scraps. In conventional garment cutting, 15 percent of the fabric usually goes to waste, so I’m exploring ways to use these scraps to create new garments that are classy, elegant, and desirable. 

To collect scraps, I set up textile recycling bins in the fashion classrooms on campus. Within a week of setting up the first bin, it was overflowing. I’ve been spreading the word ever since, telling people in other majors that they can also take and donate scraps. Working with the fashion department chair, we’re pursuing a partnership with a textile recycling plant to take what we don’t use and turn it into new fabric. And I’ve noticed that my peers are more conscious about how they use material and what they do with what’s left over, which is incredibly powerful. It’s been a long journey, with a lot of research involved, but I’m excited to see how these efforts grow in the future. 

MassArt helps students understand how much power they have — as artists, as designers, as thinkers, and as creative people. And I can’t wait to see how future students capitalize on that power to propel the world to where it needs to be.

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