Upcycling within the fashion industry


Written By Pradnya Shinde

Upcycling is rapidly gaining its popularity today as the fashion industry grapples with how to keep old clothes out of landfills and finding a long-time solution is a priority. Sustainable fashion has also gone mainstream over the past few years. Brands reusing plastics and other synthetic items to create capsule collections and few designers implementing upcycling in new collections has caught the attention of many in the industry. Getting into details on why we need to adapt upcycling is because every year we nearly produce 92 tons of global waste which is about 4 percent of the entire world's waste, according to a report by Pulse of the Fashion Industry via Forbes. “On an average consumer wears clothes 36 percent fewer times than they did 15 years ago. If the number of times a garment is worn were doubled on average, greenhouse gas emissions would be 44 percent lower. 

Upcycling in luxury fashion

 Photo: Fashion United.

Globally, customers miss out on up to $460 billion each year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear” said by Mckinsey. Now customers are becoming choice conscious and paying more attention to what they buy and have become more centric towards buying sustainable, reusable, upcycled clothes. On the brighter side upcycling involves creativity, uniqueness and reducing in clothing by reusing deadstock to create new clothing. Imagine a T-shirt which requires 300 gallon of water which now can be repurposed to create a new piece where you save textile wastage that ends up in landfill. Designers and brands are slowly taking responsibility and turning their heads involving more focus on sustainability. Big fashion houses like Prada Groups, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney are few leading names who have already put their foot forward in creating change in living. More and more companies are changing their business model to become complete transparent post pandemic. 

Upcycling within the fashion industry

 Photo: Irene Brination

Several brands have adopted upcycling due to heavy fiber wastage, deadstock problem and eco conservative environment and fashion labels are reviewing Upcycling movements as they are quickly driving fame in the aspirational fashion market. Designers are vouching for old fabrics to make stunning pieces, especially during a pandemic which has shown a seismic shift in the fashion world, brands becoming seasonless and designers using zero wastage policy is driving change in the mindsets of consumers. This year when designer Virgil Abloh, creative director of Louis Vuitton used fabrics from the brand’s old archive for the men’s wear collection showcased in China, the world noticed.

Photo:.Elizabeth Stewart 

Similarly, the famous Australian actress Cate Blanchett made a fashion statement at the 2020 Venice Film festival, the first socially-distanced – international film festival during Covid crisis. For her red - carpet appearance, Cate, the president of the festival jury chooses to wear previously worn pieces in effort to promote sustainability fashion. She was seen wearing Alexander McQueen embroidered top which she was spotted wearing in London in 2016 and Esteban Cortazar Mid-night blue dress that she chose to wear for the opening ceremony of the festival which was a throwback from 2015. “It is chic to repeat,” said her stylist Elizabeth Stewart, on Instagram. “When planning for any important event, make sure to look in your closet first! Clothes are meant to be cherished and worn again and again. Even if you are a world famous actress”. In short, beautiful and creative things can come out of sustainability. 

Louis Vuitton Upcycled fashion week

Photo: Fashion Week

Accepting sustainable fashion is not a necessity nor commitment, it is a way of living your values, creating more individuality and uniqueness and changing demand in the fashion industry. More and more customers should invest money in buying sustainable, ethical or secondhand fashion brands rather than fast fashion and the fashion industry will eventually realize they need change.


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