Duct tape has always been considered a reliable item to have on hand for household needs, but creative types now have found another use for it — making fashion accessories, clutch bags, and even formal wear.
James Morningstar, a Fashion instructor at The Art Institute of Philadelphia, says making fashion accessories out of duct tape has become popular due to its accessibility, sustainability, and easy handling.
“It can be explored by younger students — from grade school students to more complex projects at the college level — as well as older and established fashion designers,” Morningstar says.
Morningstar says it’s easy to create a shape and silhouette for items made with duct tape, due to its malleability and form-fitting properties.
“The difficulty comes in its sticky side,” Morningstar says. “Once that side is hidden (either self stuck or adhered to other objects), it does become a bit more firm, however it still remains easy to form.”
Morningstar says the most common fashion accessories created from duct tape include handbags, wallets, and belts.
“It can be used in apparel, however there is usually a fabric base to it,” Morningstar says.
Morningstar cites entries in Duck-brand duct tape’s, “Stuck at Prom,” contest as the most impressive items he’s seen created from duct tape.
DUCT TAPE PROM WEAR CONTEST
Scott Sommers, director of marketing at ShurTech Brands, which makes Duck-brand duct tape, says the “Stuck at Prom” participants are high school students competing for a chance to win a college scholarship by creating duct tape prom outfits.
“Schools also win the same cash prize as the couple,” Sommers says. “Each person gets a $5,000 college scholarship, plus the school gets $5,000.”
He says the company has given away nearly $200,000 worth of college scholarships directly related to this duct tape prom apparel contest.
Sommers says approximately 6,000 students have participated in the contest since it began in 2000.
“It challenges kids to use duct tape as a creative medium,” Sommers says.
Beginning in March, Sommers says the company starts collecting submissions from students of the duct tape prom apparel they have created. He says a panel of judges chooses the top 10 submissions. Teresa Scanlon, the 2011 Miss America, was one of the judges for last year’s contest, Sommers says. He says that Miss America joining the judging panel really solidified duct tape as a legit fashion medium.
“America loves Duck Tape,” Sommers says. “It’s really neat to see it as a legit, real art medium.”
Sommers says the company is thrilled with the overwhelming response the “Stuck at Prom” contest has received.
“Our company, when we started this, we put an idea out there to stimulate the user community, and what we got back from the user community is so much better than we could ever imagine,” Sommers says. “Some of the stuff they make is incredible.”
In addition to duct tape prom outfits, Sommers has seen duct tape used to create many other fashion accessories.
“We see a lot of accessories, in particular,” Sommers says. “I think it’s got that novelty look. We see a lot of purses, jewelry, wallets, and rings.”
Sommers says he has also seen people make duct tape flowers to put on the ends of pens as decoration.
“The level of detail that people are using this medium with has become incredible,” Sommers says.
Sommers says he has received numerous stories from parents whose children have sold their fashionable duct tape creations to raise money for charity.
CLUTCH BAGS MADE FROM DUCT TAPE
Katie Labruyere has been making clutch bags from duct tape for years.
“I saw a girl when I was out with some friends one night who had a purse made out of duct tape,” Labruyere says. “My eyes locked on to it and I went over to ask her where she got it. I examined it a little bit and then went home with tons of ideas that I wanted to incorporate into my own pieces. I am a huge fan of using unexpected mediums for anything and everything, so this idea got me really amped up.”
Depending upon the level of detail involved, it can take Labruyere anywhere from one to three hours to craft her clutch bags.
“If I am recreating something I have already made then I can usually get it done within the hour,” Labruyere says. “If it is something new to me, I have to be much more patient with myself and focus.”
Labruyere says her duct tape clutch bags are incredibly durable. She is still carrying some of the first ones she made in 2007.
“I have found that the more a piece is used, the more durable and comfortable they become,” Labruyere says. “I have shoved an awful lot in some of the ones that I have used. I have made them in all shapes and sizes, too. I am not one to carry a huge purse regularly, so the wallet, phone, camera, lip gloss, etc., contents tend to do just fine in my clutches. Once you have broken in your purse a little more you will find that you are able to squeeze a few more things in there.”
Labruyere’s creativity has extended to crafting other products as well, including wallets, passport covers, e-reader covers, iPad covers, checkbook holders, folders to hold yellow pads, and card boxes for weddings.
CREATING UNIQUE FASHION ACCESSORIES
Carey Anderson, a General Education instructor at The Art Institute of Indianapolis, created an ice breaker activity a few years ago, where students attending Studio 101, a weeklong workshop for high school students hosted by The Art Institutes, had the opportunity to make fashion accessories out of duct tape.
Anderson got the idea to create this duct tape activity from her young daughter.
“I am a mother of two and the high school babysitter brought duct tape to the house for my artistic and crafty daughter to use,” Anderson says. “I realized how much she loved it and saw that websites were having duct tape prom dress contests.”
Anderson says the students enjoyed creating and using their fashion accessories made from duct tape.
“The high school students needed a bag for camp so they even put the duct tape on the bag to symbolize their own style,” Anderson says. “It is an art school.”
Although Anderson says duct tape fashion seems to be most popular with children and teenagers, she says some of the students who created these duct tape fashion accessories as high school students in Studio 101 still have them today.
Contributing writer for EDMC.