Decorative banners that once hung around the Youngstown State University campus are being turned into designer totes and messenger bags in the YSU Banner Bag Design Competition.
Groups of students in YSU’s fashion-merchandising and graphic-design programs are collaborating to take the vinyl banners and re-purpose them into fashion pieces.
Nanette Lepore, YSU graduate and fashion designer, will judge the entries at an invitation-only event in the Bliss Hall Theater lobby Saturday. Lepore will receive an honorary degree at YSU’s spring commencement.
The winning entry then could be mass-produced and given away as a donor incentive by the YSU Office of University Development.
“This is a great way for fashion and graphic-design students to channel their creative skills, contribute to campus sustainability efforts and enhance their resumes,” said Jacquelyn Daniel-Johnson, the YSU annual giving coordinator, who got the idea from a similar project at Northeastern University in Boston.
Daniel-Johnson said the banners, currently sitting in a campus warehouse, cannot be recycled. “They are just taking up space right now,” she said. “We want to keep them from being deposited in a landfill and instead funnel them back out into the community.”
Student teams will submit their designs, which include everything from cellphone covers and iPad cases to totes and duffel bags. Once Lepore chooses the winning design, Super Stitches, a local commercial sewing business, will produce the product.
Daniel-Johnson said she hopes the contest can take place annually.
“The students have been really excited about it,” she said.
Funding for the competition award came from a donor whose daughter graduated from the graphic- design program in 2010.