Dreamweek San Antonio 2021 brought Sustainable Fashion to the Forefront

Dreamweek San Antonio 2021 brought Sustainable Fashion to the Forefront

In the wake of the unearthed civil unrest that 2020 brought, the organizers of Dreamweek San Antonio, more than ever, found themselves obliged to carry on their mission to “celebrate our humanity by creating environments for civil and civic engagement to embrace ideas and dreams for the common good.” Though in-person events were limited, their message through civic engagement was loud and clear. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of civil rights reform, the DreamWeek mission is to lay the foundations of tolerance, equality, and diversity to create a platform where people across cultures and communities can discuss and exchange ideas, fostering enlightenment for the greater human experience. From January 13th through the 30th, they celebrated with panel discussions, exhibitions, virtual galleries, live spoken word performances, and even fashion shows, all events dedicated to equality and lending a platform to share the voice of a diverse community in the City of San Antonio.

Shop Sustainable Fashion Show. Photo Credits: Gregory K Photo

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Deciding whether to host an in-person or virtual event was not an easy task. Ethical Network of San Antonio hosted the first Shop Sustainable event, in partnership with vintage boutique, Minx and Onyx last Thursday, Jan. 21st at Brick at Blue Star. “Producing a fashion show in the middle of a pandemic was a hard decision. Our main priority was to protect our customers and models while showcasing local vendors- which is why we even had our models sporting masks made by local designer Mikala Ivy.”, said Saige Thomas, photographer and event co-organizer. The event had limited capacity, door temperature checks and required masks at all times while inside the venue. “All of the vendors featured play a crucial role in San Antonio by providing durable solutions in an effort to end fast fashion. I volunteered to produce this fashion show because I want to perpetually be involved in the efforts of reducing our fashion footprint. I believe that if we strive to make sustainable, eco-friendly choices when it comes to what we wear, it doesn’t mean that we have to compromise our style or look- both are achievable. Events like this that are safely and cautiously executed will help keep businesses that are trying to change the fashion world stay alive.”, stated Thomas.

Shop Sustainable Fashion Show. Photo Credits: Gregory K Photo

“After lots of discussion, we decided that this event was going to happen with or without us and we wanted to be able to support Amanda [Alarcon-Hunter] and all her hard work, and it was an opportunity to be part of a Dreamweek event.”, said Sharmon Lebby, President of Ethical Network of San Antonio. She continued, “We felt better knowing all the requirements that would be put in place like limiting capacity, temps taken at the door, and the mask requirement. Plus, the venue usually holds around 40 vendors and they limited the vendors to 15.”
Shop Sustainable Vendor. Photo Credits: Gregory K Photo

“This idea with Dream Week came to me about a year and a half ago.”, expressed Amanda Alarcon-Hunter, owner of Minx and Onyx, and co-organizer of Shop Sustainable. “I had just launched my online vintage store Minx and Onyx and started to rework and redesign jewelry and handbags. I knew that I had to do more than what I was doing. It just wasn’t enough and I wanted to make a stronger impact. To shop sustainable and be eco-conscious of my shopping choices has always and will continue to be very important to me. I am truly an old soul and I want to bring awareness to ethical and sustainable choices to the forefront. There is a big problem in today’s society that is leading to more and more suffering on a daily basis. This suffering is not only affecting people but it is affecting animals and our environment. This unnecessary suffering is due to the fact that we as a society in so many ways are unsustainable.  However, in order to see change, the most highly visible and impactful activism often comes in the form of collective action, in which numerous individuals come together for the greater good. This is what I hope to see happen with Shop Sustainable, a Dream Week event and summit.”, said Alarcon.

Shop Sustainable Patron. Photo Credits: Gregory K Photo

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Promoting the message of Sustainability has become a priority for many businesses in the city. The Ethical Network of San Antonio and the businesses they support have been working on this mission to not just promote but encourage businesses to incorporate sustainable and ethical practices in their core values. The significance of hosting a sustainable event during Dreamweek is not taken lightly by the organization. Racial justice and climate change have been linked in a study published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. It was found that Black and Hispanic communities in the U.S. are exposed to far more air pollution than they produce through actions like driving and using electricity. “We have been sustainable from the beginning out of necessity and basic respect for land, nature, and our belongings.  Now, with new language surrounding the concept, it’s become something that’s deemed elitist and unattainable. I believe having the right representation from this movement can be essential to reminding the Black & Latinx communities that this started with us and there are things that they do every day that are sustainable.”, said Lebby.

Shop Sustainable Hair Stylist, Dominic Alonzo. Photo Credits: Gregory K Photo

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For Alarcon-Hunter, a human rights, animal rights, and economic activist, advocacy has been a lifelong passion. “All of these collectively involve the importance of sustainability and the right to pursue justice in my daily lifestyle.  Both my husband and I are activists and advocates for those that can not speak or stand up for themselves. I have always been for the little guy and always will be. This life is about doing the right thing while we are on this earth and making it count one footprint at a time.”, stated the vintage curator. In the aftermath of a racially charged year, a global pandemic and a change in the U.S. government administration, it was more than fitting that we see a paradigm shift in the way we look at sustainability as a human rights issue.

Shop Sustainable Fashion Show Model. Photo Credits: Saige Thomas

What does the future hold for sustainable fashion in San Antonio? There is much hope in the air that we will be able to see more in-person, although the norm has definitely to be more present on a digital platform. Until people start to feel comfortable attending in-person, events will be smaller, with mask requirements and physical distance. Lebby was pleasantly surprised at the turnout for the Shop Sustainable event herself. “We’re really happy with the turnout for this event and it shows that people are happy to support businesses like these. For the past 3 years, we’ve been part of so many sustainable fashion events in SA whether it’s fashion shows, clothing swaps, or just through the vendors at our Good Market, so we definitely have plans to do more.”, said Lebby. “Our biggest will be with TFII, kicking off Texas Fashion Week. While our organization promotes all forms of sustainability, fashion is where my expertise lies, so it’s the easiest to come up with events for.” As Community Manager with Ethical Network San Antonio, Alarcon-Hunter also planned this in an effort to help  ENSA a 501C3 by raising funds and help bring awareness to their need for membership and donations.

Be sure to follow @shopsustainablesatx | @ethicalnetworksa | @saigethomasphotography

A GoFundme has been created to help support this event in the future and its ongoing mission. Please visit gofundme.com/f/shopsustainable
Jeanelly Concepcion
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Originally from New York City, Jeanelly is of Dominican roots. Having lived in Puerto Rico for over 22 years, she now enjoys a highly successful fashion blogging career at TheFashionLotus.com. She is a Texas influencer and has been a freelance fashion contributor for Style Lush TV for several years. She believes in empowering women through fashion and helping them feel beautiful no matter what their financial situation, body shape, age or where they live or work.