Sustainable threads like Miss Louth wears second-hand

A Miss Ireland contestant proves that you can be both chic and climate-conscious by only wearing items that she’s bought second-hand, upcycled or made herself.

Maiya McMonagle, 19, a sustainable fashion designer from Drogheda, is representing Co Louth at the competition’s 75th Diamond Jubilee.

“I made it my campaign to show that fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth,” she said. “The generation I’m in now has four times as much clothing as their parents before them, directly because of fast fashion.

“Specifically being with Miss Ireland has allowed me to spread the word about St Vincent De Paul and the fortune we have in our community through charity shops. It can be a bit stigmatizing to wear someone else’s clothes, but you make your clothes your own; I can wear something and it’s mine, someone else can wear it and it’s theirs.”

Maiya wore St Vincent De Paul items on her Miss Ireland trip

Maiya said a fashion show attendees attended recently was a particular success in getting her message across.

“All of my looks on the show were from St. Vincent De Paul and one was completely upcycled. About 10 to 15 other finalists came up to me at the end and said they will go to their local charity shop now. I’m definitely making a difference and spreading awareness, and I will continue to do so.”

Maiya started her sustainable fashion journey at the age of ten when she started designing items out of materials she found around her house.

Maiya uses her platform as Miss Louth to spread the message that “fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth”.

“I’ve made things out of tablecloths, bathmats, really anything I could get my hands on that would go through a sewing machine,” she recalled.

“When I was 14, I went to New York Fashion Week and spread awareness of plastic in the ocean with my show and designs. It then exploded into a sustainable fashion brand and I loved it.”

Maiya says she’s proud to continue to advocate for sustainable clothing and design.

“I know my 10-year-old self would be proud of me too,” she added. “I feel like when you’re passionate about something, you can’t shake it. I started designing out of love for animals and the environment, and fashion gave me the platform to spread awareness about these things. They are all interconnected and connected. I know I’m on the right track.”

Maiya upcycled a second-hand ball gown into a contemporary piece for one of her Miss Ireland events

Maiya said she was inspired to attend Miss Ireland by last year’s winner, scientist Pamela Uba.

“When I saw Pamela Uba win last year with her ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ campaign which provided iPads for children, I didn’t know Miss Ireland was doing it, I thought it was just a pageant where you looking pretty and being judged off of your beauty… But then I realized you’re being judged on your whole ethos and something you can do for your community,” she said.

Maiya will compete for the Miss Ireland crown with 36 other finalists next Saturday at the Royal Theater in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

In our Climate Heroes series of reports, we shed light on the people who are committed to protecting the environment and fighting climate change. Although these people come from all walks of life, they share a common goal to improve the world around us.

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