FSU Senior Gabriela Mendez-Acevedo Supports Homeless Shelter with Community Upcycling Project

FSU Senior Gabriela Mendez-Acevedo Supports Homeless Shelter with Community Upcycling Project

Dec 1, 2021

When people talk about sustainable fashion, they often think about things like thrift shopping or producing pricey garments from sustainably sourced materials. But sustainable fashion is more than that, according to FSU senior Gabriela Mendez-Acevedo '21. 

"Those things are great," she says. "But I think of sustainability from the perspective of growing up poor. I had to wear my brother’s clothing and try to piece my outfits together. I want people to understand sustainability from a different point of view. Sustainability wasn’t an option for people like me."

So Mendez-Acevedo, a Fashion Design major with a concentration in Merchandising, launched a Community Upcycling Project this semester in order to educate the community and to raise clothing for a local homeless shelter. She put a call out to the FSU community to donate used clothing that was still in perfect condition.

"We sourced these clothes directly from the FSU community and got them into the hands of people who really need them," she says. "Clothing makes such a difference. Think about how often people look down on the homeless simply for how they are dressed."

The community came through in a big way, filling up a large box Mendez-Acevedo put out for donations five times.

"Not everything was in perfect condition, but a lot of it was," she says. "People donated some really nice clothing."

Mendez-Acevedo, a peer tutor and the student Co-Chair for the FSU Council on Diversity and Inclusion, graduates this winter and has already lined up a position at PUMA as an Apprentice for Apparel Development in the Run/Train Department. Her goals are to work with the department to develop a plus size collection, as well as a unisex collection, and an adaptive clothing collection. She is also launching a podcast focused on topics such as mental health and self-care.

"I do want to continue getting experience in the industry so I can eventually teach other students like me how to make it in the fashion industry and educate them on the disparities Black people and people of color face in the industry," she says.

Mendez-Acevedo will give a community presentation on her project on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 2:30 p.m. in Whittemore Library.

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.