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Did You See It? Self Storage on Project Runway

Did You See It? Self Storage on Project Runway

By Molly Hammond, StorageUnit.com

While renting a storage unit might not be your most glamorous purchase ever, the truth is that storage facilities can be big-time stars! In fact, they’re often seen on television shows and movies, from well-known moments like Walter White’s pallets of cash, to instances that fly under the radar—did you realize Silence of the Lambs relies on a storage facility almost immediately?

Frequently, storage units are used in popular culture for nefarious purposes—things that would simply never fly at a respectable facility—or as the backdrops to auction shows that are less than popular in the industry. That’s why we’re making it our mission to scout out storage units on TV and dish the dirt; how were they used? Is that even possible or just movie magic? And more than that: was it fabulous?

In the case of our first storage feature, the answer is a resounding “yes!”

A few months ago, season 13 of Project Runway was well under way when episode 11 presented a special sartorial challenge to the designers.

project runway contestants with self storage units


The designers meet mentor Tim Gunn at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he stands in front of a number of storage containers. Paired into three teams at the hands of the famous button bag, the designers are told that they’ll be given $500 to bid on the storage units—and will then be designing cohesive looks using only the contents of the lockers. Five units and three teams mean that at least one team will have more than one unit to work with, though the designers are still skeptical about what materials they’ll be able to get their hands on.

project runway contestants gather materials from a storage unit


The units are opened, and their contents seem loosely themed—and definitely true to what you might find in any local storage facility! From a locker filled with old furniture to the one full of forgotten children’s toys, to one that seems to hold little more than an umbrella, these storage units were full of stuff, and even for those that contained garments and fabrics, these stored items weren’t necessarily fodder for high fashion, at least not at first glance. Still, it was easy to see which designers were inspired by their storage units, and made some amazing stuff after the bidding war was done. We don’t want to give anything away, even with the season over (people binge watch on their own time, right?), but we’ll say that what these designers were able to do with abandoned and unconventional items certainly renewed our faith in squirreling things away!

project runway contestants design with storage unit materials


So let’s focus on the facts. Here’s a quick rundown of how we think the storage unit or facility was portrayed.

Believability: 5/5

Was this storage unit’s appearance believable? For sure. Storage auctions can be complicated in real life, and while the designers definitely made some treasures out of what they found, there was nothing wild about what was inside. No living animals, no food, no illegal items—these units were on the up and up.

Fairness: 5/5

Was Project Runway fair to storage facilities? Definitely! While it’s unlikely that Tim Gunn will be the one holding the keys to your local storage auction, the items found inside definitely echo reality (no matter how staged you can assume this challenge was)!

Fun Factor: 5/5

Though this might not always be applicable, was this glimpse of storage in pop culture a fun one? Absolutely. There’s a reason people love the unconventional challenges on Project Runway, and taking something as commonplace as storage units and transforming something as pedestrian as soccer balls and old couches into fashion was 100% worth the watch.

Have you spotted a storage unit on TV or film recently? Let us know so we can write it up and rank it!