The Rise of Upcycled Clothing as a New Milestone in Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability is definitely the ‘it’ word of the season. And it should be, since during the pandemic most customers learned the value of reusing and upcycling what they already had. The same goes for the designers, since import was put on hold, they had to work with what they had on hand in the workshops. This birthed some very interesting pieces in fashion, and gave the designers a new point of view. Let’s learn something about this new milestone in sustainable fashion.

Excess inventory

In order to preserve their value, most of the luxury brands burn their unsold items after the season is over. This practise resulted in wasting more than $150 million this past spring/summer season, which almost ruined some companies. So, in order to keep their business afloat in these trying times, the brands needed to find a way to use this excess inventory to their advantage. They needed to reinvent this excess and make use of all the left-over clothes that no one needed in the midst of the pandemic. Luckily, there are designers especially equipped to take apart old clothes and make new pieces.

This way of thinking sure pleased a lot of the customers who are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of sustainability, and minimizing the waste in the fashion industry. With this trend, it’s two birds – one stone!

‘Re-‘ as the main prefix

Rethinking, recycling, repurposing, reusing, restocking…are just some of the words that are popular in 2021. Designers of most brands are trying their best to cut their costs, while doing something green for our planet. Most are just reusing old scraps of materials, or remaking last season’s pieces and making something new out of them – like a T-shirt from a dress. However, there are some avant-garde designers that turn materials not typically used for clothing, into clothing pieces, like a basketball net chain turned dress. This type of clothes-making is enabling designers to make more unique pieces, almost collectables, and this is approved by most buyers.

A whole new way…

This new way of business, although less wasteful, has proven challenging to some designers. Recycling or reusing makes you think well in advance, and makes you aware of all the leftover fabric pieces, and how you can use them, or incorporate into different pieces. However, buyers seem to be responding well to this new trend, and it may well become the new way of doing fashion.

Going by what this innovative master’s degree in fashion design and business teaches, being in fashion means being on trend. And when a trend is as good as this one, why not hop on board, and instead of making hundreds of clothing pieces, and burning them at the end of the season – why not make something new, well thought through and good for the environment? Some pieces will inevitably be considered as more of avant-garde clothing items, but ready-to-wear fashion is in high demand, and this new way of clothing delivers exactly that.

…and a new norm

In the midst of a pandemic, most people were inspired to go through their wardrobes, and discard the items that no longer serve the purpose. Those items were mostly donated or sold, but some were tossed. Tossed garments will definitely end up in a landfill (sadly), but luckily, most items are usually just given away. The phenomenon of discarding the items you no longer need, is catching on rather quickly, and more and more people find themselves purging their closets. It is a good thing, since it means people are keeping only pieces that are truly useful and purposeful.

This carried over to the fashion industry incredibly fast, and we are hoping that it transcends into being a new form of fashion industry. Having sustainable, reliable pieces of clothing that can be used throughout many seasons, but also collectibles that have special meaning to the buyers is a dream come true.

Let’s hope that the upcycling trend is more than that, and that it actually becomes the new, permanent way of doing business and perceiving fashion, not only for the sake of our planet, but also for the respectable buyers, their wardrobes and their wallets.


Author Bio: Jennifer is the lead content developer at Spread the Word Solutions and a green lifestyle blogger, with a keen interest in a wide array of topics related to ethical fashion, sustainable travels and adopting a green frame of mind.

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