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Is Upcycling the Future of Fashion?

Is Upcycling the Future of Fashion?

Sustainability is high on our agenda at the moment, and we’re looking to incorporate it into every area of our lives.

Our awareness of fast fashion has grown in recent years, with many of us buying and disposing of our clothes more mindfully. If we’re choosing to buy new, many of us are focusing on high-quality dresses that will stand the test of time. Whether we choose to donate our unloved garments to charity, sell them on second-hand platforms like Depop, or we DIY them into a new piece, we’re minimising our fashion waste.

Why should we be upcycling?

Fast fashion is a pressing issue, and the UK is at the forefront of clothes wastage. Per person, we buy 26.7kg of clothes every year, which is over 10kg more than our counterparts in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, and across Europe.

What’s more, we own an average of 115 items of clothing, but 26 of those items have never been worn. We send £140 million worth of clothes to the landfill every year, with many of them unworn. It’s clear that we have a problem with clothes waste in the UK, so it’s encouraging that this is being addressed through second-hand fashion and upcycling.

The rise of second-hand fashion

Let’s face it, everyone loves a good charity shop rummage. But when it comes to convenient thrifting, second-hand apps such as Depop and Vinted have soared in popularity. Depop increased its user count by 163% in 2020, while its sales increased by 300%.

These platforms are largely fuelled by our increasing awareness of our environmental impact. Many leading fashion brands, including Miu Miu, Balenciaga, and Marni, have started incorporating upcycled fashion in their recent collections. We’ve also seen new brands popping up, like Reformation, which makes all of its clothes from “deadstock” fabrics and old clothing.

Making second-hand fashion work for you

Second-hand fashion is a great way to update your wardrobe in a sustainable and cost-effective way. Depending on your personal style and budget, there are many sites where you can find a fashion steal.

The great thing about affordable second-hand clothing is that you can upcycle it yourself to make it a truly unique piece. If you love one-of-a-kind printed dresses, why not make some yourself? You can also do this with the items in your closet that you’ve grown bored of.

Here are our easy tips for upcycling your current clothes and second-hand finds that go beyond turning a pair of jeans into jean shorts…

Jazz up a worn pair of shoes

Do you have a pair of white trainers that have seen better days? Or maybe your favourite night-out heels are a bit scuffed up? As long as they’re still wearable, you can breathe new life into them with some upcycling.

Decorating your shoes with glitter is a great way to create a unique, stunning item that’s sure to make you stand out from the crowd. What’s more, you’ll give off a Miu Miu vibe if you glitter up your high-top trainers! Glittery heels, meanwhile, ooze glamour and are perfect for a festive night out.

New ways to wear your shirts

One item many of us will have in our wardrobes is a crisp white shirt (or one that’s borrowed from our partner’s closet…) – but if it’s starting to look a bit plain and boring to you, why not switch up the way you wear it?

Off-the-shoulder styles are a great way to beat the summer heat, and the great news is that you can do that with the white shirt you have at your disposal – and if you don’t have one, you can pick one up for a few pounds at a charity or second-hand shop!

With this DIY, you don’t even need to make any changes to the item – simply do the two buttons in the middle of your bust up, pull the shoulders of the shirt down, and tie the rest of the unbuttoned material into a bow. This gives you a two-in-one item that you can use for professional and casual settings – dual-use clothes are a great way to minimise our fashion waste!

Get crafty with basic items

Got a plain dress in a silhouette you adore? You can indulge in your crafty side and DIY a fun and unique pattern to turn it from drab to fab. If you’re a handy painter, you can use fabric paints and online tutorials from leading brands including Cath Kidston to recreate iconic prints or create your own.

If you love a slogan tee, why not make one yourself? Simply create a card stencil and use fabric paint or sprays to emblazon an empowering mantra on a basic white tee. You can also add interesting details to plain t-shirts or vest tops – how about a lace collar or insert? For the crafty amongst us, the sky really is the limit.

In today’s sustainability-focused world, we’re looking to make our everyday lives greener. For many of us, this means reducing our reliance on fast fashion and minimising our clothing waste. We love second-hand fashion sites for adding to our wardrobe, and upcycling is a great way to breathe some life into our existing items or the steals we find online.


Images: Unsplash