Upcycling Clothing: A Sustainable Solution to the Crazy Fashion Industry?
In light of my previous piece about fashion being problematic and fast fashion, in particular, I came to the conclusion that we, as humans, made fashion into a crazy industry and which impacts the environment terribly. However, human beings are capable of doing all sorts of things that will be beneficial in the future. Then how does fashion make an ethical and responsible presence on this planet? Upcycling is one solution.
Each year, the fashion industry produces countless amounts of clothing and contributes a great deal of carbon emissions to the environment, and many issues relating to labor conditions and work ethics remain hidden behind the production of clothing. This being the case, some fashion designers and segments interested in sustainable fashion encourage the re-usability of excess clothes.
What is upcycling?
The concept of upcycling simply means to use clothes that you already have, DIY, and turn them into a brand new one ready to wear; and yes, just a touch of personal creativity is always recommended. If we thought about the framing, cutting, and sewing involved in creating a brand-new piece of clothing, it would be more meaningful. It is mandatory that all cloth be processed and recycled properly in order to avoid creating waste that will be dumped or burned.
Why is upcycling clothing important?
Upcycling is all about creativity in creating one-of-a-kind clothes, as well as reusing anything as one may wish. Essentially, it aims to reduce the amount of waste generated by reusing unneeded pieces of cloth, old clothing, and creating something new and special from them.
According to Cecile Poignant, a trend forecaster who works alongside Li Edelkoort says that our collective awareness of the negative effects of the fashion industry grows and this causes more brands to find new solutions. Therefore, the need for sustainable brands has been steadily growing among mainstream brands. Upcycling fashion contributes not only to sustainable shopping as a whole but also serves as art pieces, cultural commentary, and a sense of connection (Radin, 2019).
So, if you want to contribute your effort to the environment by purchasing upcycled/vintage clothing, I have some recommendations of fashion brands that are in the game:
Beyond Retro is a British-based retailer specialized in providing vintage, second-hand clothing. They take seriously choosing apparel gems in the middle of mountains of second-hand pieces piled up together that match their trends. Beyond Retro is working beyond as a normal vintage retailer, they are nerds in researching data. Whenever each new item arrives at their London headquarter, the data team will track the crucial fashion stats, such as trend, decade, size, style, source, quality, etc. (Beyond Retro). Every department works tirelessly to bring out quality and trendy vintage pieces that satisfy their customers, and seeing customers enjoy wearing their products and post on Instagram is a paid-off result for their hard work and dedication.
A well-known brand of outdoor apparel and gear and certified by B Corporation as one of the brands focusing on the environment and utility of every clothing. Patagonia also runs their ‘1% for the Planet’ and an upcycling program called ReCrafted. Patagonia has given 1% of its sales since 1985 for the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. And, the brand receives old, used clothes, and the workers of Patagonia would repurpose, cut, patch, and sew them into ready-to-wear ones. This program helps in cutting water waste in making and even recycling clothes that still need water in the process. To understand more about the program, click here.
Urban Outfitters, a trendy retailer offering the latest trendy clothing, hippie home furniture, and more. Their latest subsidiary of upcycling apparel ‘Urban Renewal’ is all about upcycled, patched clothing reborn for their second life. The line is creative for cutting, patching pieces of clothing that are different in style, color, textiles but assembled for a complete piece. By looking over the collection, I would say that each item is unique to itself, and once you purchased it, there would not be another person in this world who has the same one as yours. How cool!
Photo: Urban Renewal
RE/DONE is a mid-end fashion line that states itself as Iconic, Responsible, and Individual, which aims to create functional but sustainable pieces for the sake of the environment. Fully acknowledged the importance of fashion towards the ecosystem, Sean Barron, CEO and Co-Founder of RE/DONE, gave birth to RE/DONE in 2014 with a simple idea of taking old things and making them new again. The brand promises to offer one-of-a-kind, limited edition luxury designs with a commitment to mindful production, sustainability, and circular fashion (RE/DONE).
The upcycling process is only one way to keep your clothes in excellent condition, there are also other methods, such as thrifty clothing, second-hand clothing, or DIY at home with your existing wardrobe to keep fashion industry sustainable. Earth is the only planet in this universe with such an ocean, animal, plant, and natural resource as it has. The process of creativity, invention, and improvement is endless and when it is done for the better day by day, a bright future is sure to follow.
Beyond Retro. (n.d.). Our Vintage. Retrieved from Beyond Retro Vintage Clothing : https://www.beyondretro.com/pages/about-us
Radin, S. (2019, January 16). What’s Behind The Rise of Upcycled Garments? Retrieved from Fashionista: https://fashionista.com/2019/01/upcycled-clothing-sustainable-fashion-trend
RE/DONE. (n.d.). Our Story. Retrieved from RE/DONE: https://shopredone.com/pages/about-us