When you hear the words ‘fashion upcycling’, you can be forgiven if you think of multi-coloured rags thrown badly together on a student catwalk. If you don’t know what up-cycled fashion is, it means to re-work an old, damaged or discarded fashion item or materials to create something completely new, or to add a design to an existing item to give it a new life. As fashion sustainability and textile waste continue to make headlines, fashion upcycling is finally being taken seriously. Perhaps there is also a movement to get back to ‘creating things’, after seeing a whole generation of fast-fashion collections being churned out that separate us so much from the makers.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. The U.S. EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space. So apart from buying pre-owned, investing in up-cycled fashion pieces to prolong the life of an item (sometimes turning them into one-of-a-kind, collectible art pieces, such as Jay Ahr’s Vintage Louis Vuitton Keepall Collection) is a great way to help reduce textile waste.
Check out our top 5 upcycled fashion brands below:
Re/Done launched in 2014 in LA, creating new denim pieces from vintage and used Levis jeans, which are now being worn by celebrities and fashion lovers everywhere. Generally, it takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce the cotton in a pair jeans and it is one of the most environmentally damaging items created in fashion, so what Re/Done is doing, creating new jeans from already existing ones, extends the life cycle of denim greatly.
The R Collective
Hong Kong based upcycled fashion brand The R Collective is going from strength to strength since it launched in 2017. Creating wearable collections using waste materials that was born from Redress, the pioneering Hong Kong based charity working since 2007 to reduce waste in fashion. The R Collective collaborate with award-winning sustainable designers from The Redress Design Award to create unique upcycled collections, which complement their main collection. Check out their new 7-piece collection ‘RINSE’ designed by Central St. Martins graduate and awarding winning designer Wen Pan.
Christopher Raeburn is an ex Royal College of Art graduate and established his brand with sustainable and intelligent fashion design, creating unisex bags, accessories and clothing . The RÆMADE collection of his in particular has pioneered the reworking of surplus fabrics and garments to create distinctive and functional pieces.
Zero Waste Daniel
Daniel silverstein is a New York based clothing designer and zero waste pioneer who launched Zero Waste Daniel. Daniel first gained attention across America on the NBC reality competition ‘Fashion Star’ in 2013. From there on, celebrities including Jennifer Hudson, Kristen Bell and Amber Valletta were seen at red carpet events wearing his couture designs.
Bottle Top Fashion
Bottle Top Fashion creates luxury handbags made from used aluminium rings and recycled materials, enhancing the techniques of some of the most highly skilled artisans from around the world, supporting themselves and their families in the process. Created by Cameron Saul, son of Roger Saul who founded Mulberry, these products fund the operation of the Bottletop Foundation, which uses contemporary art and music to raise funds and awareness for educational projects that tackle teenage health issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy for people in Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil and the UK.