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Waste is out, upcycling is in. At least, that’s the message we’re getting from some of the most fashionable (or should we say trashionable?) designers in the world. An unlikely yet beautiful mix of ‘trash’ and ‘fashion’ (in case you hadn’t guessed) the transhionable fashion movement has been shaping the designscape since it started appearing on the scene back in 2004.
In Britain, roughly 235 million garments of clothing end up in landfill during the spring cleaning season alone. That’s why it’s great to see big-name designers and artists actively supporting the trashion movement by upcycling all kinds of ‘trash’; signalling the wise words of upcycling Godfather Rainer Platz, creating more value out of them - not less.
Here are 7 brands and designers that are turning waste into fashion and turning heads in the process. Their classy and sophisticated designs clearly show that upcycling doesn’t mean downscaling.
Vivienne Westwood, British fashion designer of modern punk and new wave, is also known for her activism - she’s long been an advocate and leading figure within eco-fashion. One of her most significant trashion moments came from her partnership with Ethical Fashion Initiative, who’re on a mission to build a responsible fashion industry. Westwood developed her ‘Handmade With Love’ collection out of entirely upcycled materials like rejected canvas, old roadside banners, brass and unused leather cut-offs.
Graviky Labs have designed the ultimate upcycling material, ink created using carbon air pollution. They have recently patterned with Kelly Gijsen to release a range of scarves. The scarves themselves are made from 100 per-cent organic cotton and are available in a selection of natural-dyed colours.
When it comes to the major sporting brands, Adidas scored a big when they teamed up with Parley. The partnership sees discarded plastics used to create new products, preventing the plastic from entering the oceans.
Pentatonic believe all the materials we need are already in circulation. Their mission statement says it all - ‘We’ve made it our mission to not only recycle and reincarnate the materials we use, but to ensure that each new life we give to those materials is better than the last’. They craft chairs, tables, glassware, home & fashion accessories, but ‘refuse to make any concessions’ when it comes to aesthetic. Believe it or not, the ring pictured above is made out of cigarette butts!
Freitag were definitely ahead of the curb when it comes to using recycled materials to create fashion. Freitag was started 25 years ago, by two graphic designers who decided to use truck tarpaulins, bicycle tubes and seat belts to create a sturdy, waterproof bag to protect their creative work. Over a quarter of a century later and the company has grown into a benchmark for sustainable fashion with over 5000 products made from recycled materials and sold all over the world.
Decommissioned fire hoses, boat sails, Air Traffic Control flight strips, coffee sacks, cardboard and parachutes are all upcycled into bags, belts and accessories by this innovative (and hugely transhionable!) brand.
tonlé has set its sight on being a zero waste fashion manufacturer. It pursues this goal in two ways. Where possible tonlé create garments from remnant materials, often sourced from other manufacturers. Secondly, they aim to use 100% of the materials that they do source, minimising any waste.
Anekdot are an underwear company that hand-craft garments in Berlin to the highest quality and least wastage. They declare themselves proudly ‘an upcycle brand’ - rightly explaining that ‘this does not mean that you’ll be wearing someone else’s underwear. It means that we source our materials from production leftovers, end of lines, off-cuts, deadstock and vintage trimmings’.
These brands are innovators. They’re driving a journey which could eventually lead to a drastic overhaul of the designscape - from throwaway culture to a mindset which embraces upcycling.
More importantly, they’re showing us all that upcycling can be fashionable. If you're inspired, there are endless opportunities to take discarded items and turn them into something exciting. If you've got a great trashionable repair, we'd love to see it. Head over to #mysugrufix on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and upload your results!