Upcycling: the latest fad in the fashion world, let it be on an industrial scale or a a more DIY level.
Its beauty lies in its environmentally conscious practice that seeks to mitigate waste by repurposing and transforming old or discarded clothing and materials into stylish and functional items.
It should not be confused with recycling. There is a world of a difference, as recycling involves breaking down materials into their fundamental components for creating new products. In contrast, upcycling involves reusing materials either in their original state or in a manner that enhances their value. Various techniques can be employed to upcycle clothing, including patchwork, dyeing, embroidery, and repurposing, among others.
On a grander scheme, we have seen in the past few years, big clothing brands embracing the practice of upcycling. Here are just a few names:
H&M has created a collection called “Conscious Collection” where they make upcycled clothing from materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton.
Nike implemented the “Nike Grind” program. Its take is to recycle used shoes and apparel into new gear, like playground surfaces and flooring.
Levi’s jumped onboard too, developing a program that goes by the name “Levi’s SecondHand”. It allows customers to trade in their old Levi’s for store credit. The returned denim products are upcycled into new clothes, and accessories, like bags.
Patagonia, one of the pioneers, started its “Worn Wear” program. Following a similar philosophy where customers can repair or trade in their old Patagonia gear. The surplus material is reused into practical gear, like backpacks and tents.
Now, these are just a few examples of big clothing brands that are getting into upcycling. As the demand for sustainable clothing keeps growing, we’ll probably see more brands doing the same.
We should of course not forget all the small and independent upcycled clothing brands out there. These brands are have the advantage of being able to be more creative and innovative, and even personalizing the designs.
Are you in the upcycling world? Do you have interesting and groundbreaking creations that would you like to share? Let us know in the comments section!