by Tom Stratton

Upcycling Your Wardrobe

What about those pieces that have more than a little wear and tear?...
Upcycling Your Wardrobe
It seems that I am always talking about fast fashion here and its impact on the environment but that’s because the crisis is upon us. Buying vintage means less emissions, less water waste, and less landfill. But what about those pieces that have more than a little wear and tear? Those bits that you’re just a bit bored of? Or, worse, don’t fit you anymore? This is where upcycling comes in.
Luckily there has been a recent upsurge in brands adopting a zero-waster policy. Ever-conscious brands like Patagonia offer their own reworks in exchange for store credit. Smaller vintage outlets have been doing it for years and their popularity has soared in recent years as people become ever-more conscious of the climate crisis and the impact fashion is having.  
Recycling in the traditional sense can be tricky when it comes to clothing. Mixed fabrics are often used in the production of cheap clothing and our recycling technology is not yet sufficient enough to separate and recycle those fabrics. This is the reason landfills are being overfilled at an alarming rate. The whole point of fast fashion is quick turnover and rapid new fashions; ultimately this will never be sustainable.
Just as upcycling became the trend in furniture a few years back, it is now fashion’s turn. It’s not just about the environment (though this is a major bonus), it’s about fashion itself. Those new pieces are about creating something not only stylish and new, but unique to the wearer. Simply cutting down those old levis into shorts gives you an item that nobody else will own and now creatives are doing much more than that.
The ethical practice of upcycling is not just about the environment either, it’s about people. The sweatshop practices of major fashion brands are being brought to light every day. Smaller scale production of one-off pieces eliminates the human rights abuses committed by global corporations and allows for creativity and fair trade labour. As more and more people focus on these atrocities we are moving further into independent trade and sustainability.
The textile industry in the EU alone creates around 16 million tons of textile waste a year. That’s not even taking into account the millions of tons of water that is used in the production of new garments. By creating a circular fashion economy, consumers can hope to tackle the constant environmental impact the fashion world is having globally: fashion is responsible for 10% of the planet’s carbon emissions and 20% of waste water.
Although we are moving towards more sustainable fabrics and practices, we still have a long way to go to achieve complete sustainability. Circular fashion is the perfect alternative to simply throwing an item away to be shipped to underdeveloped countries where it fills landfills, spilling out into the ocean, and further polluting the environment. For the environmentally-conscious consumer, particularly one who loves unique style, upcycling is the answer.