“‘Sustainability‘ is, without question, the biggest buzzword in fashion at the moment. But with the threat of ‘greenwashing’ – using eco and sustainable terminology without doing the work to ensure verifiable benefit to the planet – on the rise, consumers are having to become more savvy about interrogating their purchases.
Upcycling clothes that already exist is one way to ensure sustainability, because it promotes the idea of circular fashion. To ‘upcycle’ is to take something already made and then improve upon it, or turn it into a fresh item, meaning that you’re not seeking out new, raw materials to start from scratch. It means older clothes remain in circulation rather than heading to landfill.
There are, of course, plenty of ways to upcycle clothes yourself at home. But as the pressure to adopt sustainable practises increases, plenty of brands are also finding ways to introduce upcycling into their production process.
A rise in the use of deadstock and already existing fabrics has recently been embraced by many an upcoming designer. This means, using materials that would otherwise go to waste, pattern cut-offs, deadstock garments and limited runs of fabrics crying out for a second lease of life. So while it doesn’t necessarily eliminate the fabrication of new clothes, it does mean that designers are creating collections whilst considering the life-cycle of their pieces.
So, what actually is deadstock?
In short, deadstock refers to leftover stock of a product, be it whole garments that haven’t sold or leftover fabrics. Simple! This differs from sourcing vintage fabrics or second-hand pieces, because ‘deadstock’ means that they haven’t previously been worn or even sold. Instead, you’re looking at a brand new fabric or garment that never quite made it into stores, or did, but wasn’t snapped up by a shopper to fulfil its fashion destiny.
An example for you is fashion label Reformation, who make their garments from rescued deadstock fabrics and upcycled clothing.
Why should it be used more?
It’s estimated that over 100 billion, yes billion, garments are produced annually, and sadly not all of these will be worn over and over again. Hold onto your second-hand hats here people but, according to Clothes Aid, the UK sends a staggering 300,000 tonnes of wearable clothing to landfill every year. Which is enough to put you off your sexy new summer wardrobe.
Here is where Circular Fashion comes into play; reducing fashion industry waste and therefore the number of chemicals, water and greenhouse gasses produced when manufacturing fabrics. To give you a further idea of the magnitude of the problem, the fashion industry currently contributes around 10% of carbon emissions globally.This puts it on a par with agriculture.
Using deadstock textiles alone doesn’t automatically make a brand sustainable, as the process of creating clothes is not waste-free, but it does help reduce the amount of material ending up in landfill.
Who is actually using deadstock fabrics?
The process is on the rise and upcoming designers are at the forefront of the practise. Emerging designer HRH, who debuted their Autumn Winter 2021 collection at London Fashion Weekwith Fashion East back in February, aims to use sustainable materials as often as possible. They use recycled plastic bottles for the fabric of their crossbody bags, for example.
Brooklyn based company ‘Fabscrap’ is just one organisation taking advantage of this wasteful industry, collecting scrap fabrics from brands and designers and either recycling or redistributing and selling onto other artists, designers and creators.
Womenswear designer Conner Ives, whose fans include Rihanna of all people, uses only vintage and deadstock garments in his collections. Reworking and upcycling clothes to create his bright, patchwork, trademark dresses and t-shirts. The latest Autumn Winter collection features the ‘Horse Girl’ slip, a beautifully created bias cut scarf dress which includes your very own train that flips up to become a headscarf or shawl – CHIC!
One of the most exciting new labels, Ahluwalia, works solely with deadstock fabrics.
‘At Ahluwalia, we work with as much preexisting material as possible, we work like this because there is already so much that exists on the planet,’ designer Priya Ahluwalia tells us.
‘We can support the environment by adding value to things that would otherwise be sent to landfill. We also used recycled and organic fabrics. We are not perfect but we are trying our best.’
With so many emerging designers pushing the agenda, it was only a matter of time before the major fashion houses started to take note. This week the Mulberry X Ahluwaliacollaboration launched. The vibrant capsule collection of scarves and re-imagined Portobello totes use only repurposed leathers, meaning each piece is available only in super limited quantities….”
View the whole story here: https://www.elle.com/uk/fashion/trends/a36282440/upcycling-clothes/