For Cameron Williams ’09, encouraging reuse has been
a springboard to creativity
Fast fashion—aka cheap, trendy clothing, once beloved for quickly bringing runway looks to the masses—is becoming a problem. Americans buy five times the amount of clothing they did in 1980, contributing to 70 pounds of cloth waste per household each year. Six percent of New York City’s garbage is textiles. Some retailers have started encouraging clothing recycling. However, many see reuse as a better solution.
Enter Cameron Williams ’09. During a three-year stint at the New York City Department of Sanitation’s Center for Materials Reuse, he created ReFashion Week—coinciding with Fashion Week in February—to inspire New Yorkers to hit thrift shops to create unique looks and help the city reach the goal of zero waste by 2030. The event, returning for a second year in 2020, included clothing swaps, a pop-up market, and a ReFashion show where stylists dressed models in second-hand garments and accessories. This August, he organized a thrift shop crawl for National Thrift Shop Day. For Williams, the lure of reuse is strong. “It gives you an opportunity to have so much originality in your closet.”
Earlier this year, he left his job at the Center for Materials Reuse and started DUALITY NYC, a full-service creative consulting firm specializing in content creation, marketing, brand management, and event production. Much of this work involves styling and photo shoot direction for clients that include his previous employer, Goodwill Industries, and Housing Works. When dressing clients, he relies on unique items he finds in thrift shops.
Williams came to Williston Northampton a basketball star. “In a different school, I would have been pigeonholed [as an athlete],” he said. “Williston was an open space. It allowed me to try new things—fashion, for example. And I fell in love with fashion.” By the time he left, he and a few friends had started their own clothing company, printing graphics on T-shirts made by artist classmates. He adds, “Williston was instrumental in making me who I am.”