POP!, a student-run thrifted and second-hand clothing business, hosted their first fashion show in the George Washington University Student Center’s Dorothy Betts Theatre to highlight the versatility of thrifted clothing items on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m., followed by a pop-up shop on the stage until 3 p.m.
The four co-founders, GW sophomore Anna Shah, juniors Maya Levine and Rachel Cohen, and senior Stephanie Cheung, started POP! in April 2021. The fashion show and pop-up shop were the first of three events currently planned for the spring semester. POP! previously held three pop-up shop events last fall at the GW Textile Museum.
Approximately 50 audience members attended the fashion show, and even more students participated in the pop-up shop, according to Levine. The show was one of six headlining events of the President’s Weekend Palooza hosted by the GW Student Association from Feb. 17 to Feb. 20. The co-founders said that being asked by GW SA to participate in this event was an empowering, rewarding moment, as it proved that people support and understand their business mission and like what they’ve accomplished so far.
Levine and Shah said they were excited to kick off the semester with the new addition of a fashion show. Levine said they discussed holding a fashion show as a way to promote their clothing in the spring of 2021 when POP! was still in the initial brainstorming phase, and they started working out the logistics of the show during winter break. Besides entertainment, the goal of the show was to demonstrate creative ways to incorporate thrifted clothing into a wardrobe.
“Thrifted clothing can be used to show a variety of styles and that it’s not just this one thing,” Levine said. “You can sustain a wardrobe off of secondhand fashion because there’s so much to accumulate.”
The POP! fashion show featured 30 models, who were a mix of POP! co-founders, interns, and other GW students who volunteered through an interest form on Instagram. The models were allowed to independently choose their outfits, but were required to include at least one second-hand or thrifted item.
“I really liked how I was able to make my own outfit. It was fun to have that little artistic freedom, it was just a fun experience overall,” said Kylie McCarthy, a GW sophomore and POP! fashion show model.
Shah said the fashion show was designed to creatively share POP!’s mission with the GW community. She and her co-founders were inspired to start POP! when they noticed a lack of thrifted and second-hand clothing in Washington, DC accessible to the GW community. They received start-up money from participating in multiple entrepreneurial grant programs which they have used to expand their business while simultaneously still taking full class schedules and participating in student organizations on campus.
“POP! stands for power of the purse so the purpose of POP! is really to encourage shoppers to use their money to make social and environmental impact,” Shah said. “When people shop with us, they can really use their wallets and their money to promote the circular economy…we’re trying to reduce textile waste and kind of reduce the environmental impact of buying new clothes.”
Despite the new element of a fashion show, Shah and Levine both said turnout for the event was less than their previous pop-up shops. They said they attributed this primarily to the location of the event being “tucked away” in a closed theater as opposed to the centrally-located GW Textile Museum.
Nonetheless, audience members like GW sophomore Kendall Clark perceived the event well. Clark said Saturday was her first time attending a POP! event, and she thought the fashion show was the perfect introduction to the organization.
“It was really fun to watch peers be so involved and just have fun and model,” Clark said.
Shah said even though fewer people attended than at previous pop-up shops, she felt the event was a success. She said audience members came up to her after the show with praise, and POP! achieved their goal of representing the wide scope of thrifted fashion.
“Every person that came out throughout the show looked completely different and that's super intriguing and interesting to the audience,” Shah said. “ I think everyone really loved it.”
Feature photo retrieved from POP! Thrift Instagram page @gwpopthrift