People are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact as consumers and fashion brands are taking heed. The carbon footprint of the fashion industry is one of the largest in the world and new brands have popped up declaring environmental sustainability as their core value while more established brands have also started making more significant contributions to the movement. One of the ways brands have been offering sustainable fashion to their consumers is through creating upcycled pieces, which is quickly becoming the next big thing.
Upcycled Clothes Making Waves in Fashion
In the fashion industry, a lot of brands have recently come under fire for their unsustainable practices. Consumers have called out companies for slashing and throwing away unsold merchandise as well as their “greenwashing” practices, which is when the companies use the eco-friendly buzzwords in their marketing but do not do the work to ensure that the planet truly benefits from their “sustainable” practices.
According to Staiy Magazine, the fashion industry amassed $150 billion to $175 billion worth of inventory surplus from their spring/summer 2020 collections. Instead of dumping all of that textile in landfills, fashion companies have made the environmentally-responsible decision to close the fashion loop and reuse their garments.
As companies are becoming more serious about reducing their carbon footprint, brands have taken on the practice of upcycling their unsold pieces. The upcycling of clothing is the process of taking older garments and reusing them to turn into new styles of garments, giving them new life. Now, upcycling has given birth to a new wave of fashion trends that not only deals with the industry’s waste issue but gives consumers fun and quirky clothing and accessories.
Emerging designers and luxury brands have given the fashion world a lot of interesting pieces since adopting upcycling as one of their solutions to closing the textile loop. Up and coming designers like HRH and Conner Ives, and fashion labels like Reformation and Ahluwalia have pushed the agenda for circular fashion, creating artful and sustainable garments.
In 2019, Marine Serre debuted her “Marée Noire” collection featuring artistic silhouettes and interesting textures. She admits upcycling is much more labor-intensive, especially in the sourcing of these materials, and it really challenges one’s creativity, but she wants to produce things as sustainably as possible while still keeping the beauty and desirability of the brand.
Miu Miu launched its Upcycled line featuring 80 one-of-a-kind dresses. All of the textiles were sourced from antique items carefully purchased from vintage shops and markets around the globe, showing the market gorgeous alternatives to traditional gowns. Coach, one of the brands under fire late last year for slashing their bags before disposing of them while claiming sustainability by having repair workshops that fix broken bags and accessories, has since then been more genuine with their sustainability practices.
Sustainability in Fashion
Because upcycling is such an accessible practice, you can find upcycled collections at just about any level in the fashion hierarchy. Emerging designers showed the fashion world it could be done, while big brands help set the trend in motion. This nudges smaller brands into releasing their own fashion lines of upcycled pieces and also turns the spotlight towards brands that completely focus on upcycled pieces. Even regular folks can create their own upcycling projects at home. Everyone can participate in this trend all while helping lessen textile waste from ending up in landfills, reduce their carbon footprint, and create more environmentally mindful choices overall.
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch