While most people understand what recycling is or the action of recycling for example putting all your plastic and paper waste into specific bins, most do not understand
exactly what it means and how is it different to upcycling.
So for recycling the waste product, i.e. a plastic bottle is melted down and turned into something else, like a thread to make fabric, but upcycling takes a waste product, i.e. a pair of jeans and adds value to it by embroidering on it or cutting it up to make a skirt.
Upcycling is more likely to be
the most environmentally friendly way of reducing textile waste and landfills.
We throw away approximately 1.8 million tonnes of clothing every year, it is astounding. Yet more and more people are addressing this issue and getting involved in changing this massive problem into a solid solution.
In the USA there are many companies set up doing upcycled fashion. One such company is ‘Reclaimed’
is an eco-friendly, made in the USA social enterprise that creates one-of-a-kind upcycled dresses from vintage and gently worn clothing. Founded in 2014…..’’
Vermeer also says;
‘’…..Upcycling is one of the most innovative ways to transform the fashion industry for three reasons…...it’s sustainable, it’s cost effective and it’s creative….’’
Sass Brown is another innovator
in Eco Fashion, from London, a designer and writer on the subject of ethical fashion,.
In her first book Eco Fashion, we can read about the outlook on sustainability in Fashion and the new innovators that are radically trying to change the course of the current state of the fashion industry, broken down into 5 sectors, Community and Fair Trade, Ecological and Slow design, Recycle, Reuse and Redesign, New Models and Designer and Corporate initiatives.
In her second book, Refashioned, Brown talks about the emerging
array of talent in recycled and upcycled clothing designs and brands and introduces us to the notion that this subject is vitally important in the Eco Fashion journey. She strongly believes that clothing tells a story and is keen to inspire others on the subject. She also considers herself to be a fashion activist. The following quote from Brown is a powerful statement …….
‘’……Why fashion? The clothing, textiles and associated support industries employ one sixth of the world’s population, from growing cotton crops to finishing garments. So if you thought fashion was not saving babies, think again: it has the power to change the world!’’
(BROWN, S., 2013. Refashioned. London: Laurence King Publishing)
Upcycling is out there and people are doing it, it is just not publicised enough, not talked about or spread on social media enough, interestingly the majority of YouTube videos upcycling are Americans.
My journey to discover and gain more knowledge about ethical fashion continues as I enter the final stages of my degree, I decide to focus on sustainability in my Final major project centering it on the Eco Chic Design awards organised by the NGO Redress.
To enter the competition you must design 3 outfits using one or more of the following teqnique; zero waste, reconstruction and upcycling.The brief also defines the target customer that the collection is being designed for but not the trend theme or season so my first thought was to research upcoming trend forecasts and found on WGSN the Kinship Trend which is very indicative of ethical fashion and with recycling and upcycling influences......
‘’ Kinship is a trend inspired by adventure and travel, driven by cross-cultural connections in a globalised world, and looking back to the pioneering spirit of ancient Silk Road trading. It draws on pick and-mix influences that span from sophisticated travel themes to youth festival looks, guided by a global perspective.’’ (WGSN S/S 2018 Trend Forecast)
With such sub stories called the Historic Voyager, The Ancient Mariner, the Magic Carpet and Bohemian Spirit, I am inspired to start a journey of research as the Eco Fashion Explorer / Traveller and write a journal of the exploits and discoveries of influences for the designs, and gain further knowledge on upcycling and alternative solutions to reducing textile waste and landfills.
( photo sourced from (http://www.webdesigncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/weblayouttutorials15.jpg)