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What is Upcycled Fashion and how to start your journey?

In the past three decades, production in the apparel industry has tremendously increased. The buying capacities of the growing middle-class economic sector have shot up and hence garment production has also doubled. Big clothing companies are hoarding double the amount of garments that are required in their warehouses and landfills are rapidly burdened with discarded clothes simultaneously.

But, the good news is that people are actively taking interest in making more mindful choices now. We have done enough harm to the planet and people are starting to realise to care more about how their actions are impacting the planet. Clothing companies and consumers, both are trying to minimize their negative impact on the planet in whichever way they can. Up-cycled fashion is relatively a newer term in the fashion industry. It is a newer practice of ethical manufacturing of clothes. Let’s understand this in detail.

What is upcycled fashion?

Popular among the category of conscious manufacturers and consumers, Up-cycled fashion is a practice of creating a higher-valued product by transforming the old existing fabrics, garments or accessories. It’s like, revamping your old attire into something new so that it can be used for a longer period. Up-cycled fashion is a sustainable solution to the environmental problems that this huge apparel industry has already created. This practice, in a way, reduces carbon emissions and saves a lot of natural resources for future generations.

Why is upcycled fashion becoming popular?

Being the largest polluting industry after oil, the apparel industry has already poisoned the planet. But, as joint efforts by the manufacturers, consumers and government to create awareness about the harmful impacts of the fashion industry are increasing, it is creating more opportunities to find new sustainable solutions. Brands and designers are taking fashion with a more creative yet practical approach and are consistently working to create new ways to upcycle fashion products. At the same time, more consumers are showing their interest in purchasing guilt-free products. Up-cycled products are uniquely created thoughtful solutions to waste problems, and hence, they have also considered art creations that depict a sense of belongingness. People are showing interest in that uniqueness.

What is the difference between up-cycled and recycled fashion?

Often confused with the same meaning, up-cycle and recycling fashion are both sustainable solutions to the fashion waste problem. However, they are different from one another. Up-cycle fashion is about extending a garment’s life span by repurposing it differently.  Recycling, on the other hand, means breaking down the material composition of an existing product and recreating it into something new with similar value. Let’s say, you have a standard-length cotton shirt, recreating it into a crop shirt is up-cycling and shredding the shirt to recreate yarns out of it and then creating a new product is recycling.

What is the difference between pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste up-cycling?

Up-cycling can be done with two types of waste, namely, pre-consumer and post-consumer. Waste generated during the process of manufacturing like fabric cuttings and trims, unused or leftover stock, and leftover patterns is all pre-consumer waste. And the waste created after the use of the product is known as post-consumer waste. For example- a pair of trousers that don’t fit anymore or a shirt that has lost its shape over time.

Why should you consider up-cycled fashion?

First of all, it is a great sustainable solution to the fashion waste problem. The entire process of up-cycling a fashion piece saves a lot of natural resources from getting used. It provides second life to an existing product and eliminates the burden of adding up in landfills. Up-cycled products are carefully made with efforts and skills in limited numbers, thus, you will own a piece that is uniquely made just for you at an affordable price.

What are the top brands for up-cycled fashion?

A lot of brands and independent designers are creatively working on up-cycled fashion. Some of our personal favourites are Doodlage, Patch Over Patch, LataSita, Pomogrenade, Refresh, Urban Outfitters, Re/Done, and Amour Vert. Check them out to find some great up-cycling inspiration.


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