We’ve reached a point where the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. While recent studies in fashion may be imprecise for now, there is a lot of conversation on how the fashion industry manufactures 80-150 billion garments a year and produces 8-10% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
However, upcycling is quickly becoming an increasingly popular and promising trend in fashion and design. So what is upcycling? Upcycling is when you take old materials, such as clothing or furniture, that are no longer being used, and transform them into something new.
From designing clothes with old grocery bags to turning old sweaters into cozy slippers, we can all be consumers of sustainable fashion and help save our environment. Learn more about upcycling in fashion and some ways to start saving the environment today by finding the best repurposed clothing.
Benefits of Upcycled Clothing for You and the Environment
One of the many benefits to using upcycled clothing is that it’s environmentally friendly. There are socio-environmental benefits of upcycling clothes that just make sense:
- Upcycling reduces energy consumption.
- Upcycling prevents textile waste.
- Upcycling reduces fossil fuel usage.
- Upcycling lowers air pollution.
- Upcycling can support local or small businesses.
- Upcycling encourages sustainable practices to be trendy.
By using upcycled clothes, you’re building your wardrobe and saving the environment at the same time. There are many designers who have started to use this trend in fashion. People are constantly looking for ways to give their fashionable items a new life and show others how they can do so too.
Some other benefits of upcycling are it saves money and keeps items out of landfills. By cutting down on purchases and investing in vintage or second-hand pieces instead, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and saving some money in the process! This is beneficial on both an environmental level and a personal level. Plus, by reusing what we already have available, we’re keeping items out of landfills where they will sit for years and cause more harm than good for our planet.
Another important benefit you get from wearing upcycled clothing is that it helps you bring out your true personality and stand out from the crowd. Many upcycled designs have not been too mainstream lately, and the creative work and dedication put into each redesign help make you appear more unique and make positive lasting impressions. After all, creativity comes from constraints, and your unique style and conscious consumption can give you a voice to speak up for our planet’s progress.
The Negative Environmental Impact of the Current Fashion Industry
It’s no secret the fashion industry is having a massive impact on our environment. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “the fashion industry is one of the most significant contributors to environmental degradation and global warming, through unsustainable manufacturing processes and supply chains."
Fashion brands are using up to 200 times more water than other industries and is the second most water-intensive industry in the world. It takes approximately 2,700 liters of water to make a cotton shirt. While it may take just six liters of water to wash your jeans, it takes 128 liters of water to process a ton of cotton. With such high levels of use in water and energy, it’s no wonder the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of climate change emissions.
Where Can I Buy Upcycled Clothes?
It might seem like upcycled clothing is hard to find, but like thrift shopping, antique shopping, and vintage shopping, sometimes it’s all about the thrill of the chase. There are many places where you can find repurposed clothing, and there is high overlap with these other kinds of shopping.
For starters, you could visit a thrift store and purchase redone or redesigned clothes at a lower price. You’ll also find that many charities have pop-up shops with all sorts of upcycled items for sale. Another place to look is Etsy; they have a large variety of upcycled items available for purchase, from clothing to home decor.
Find Upcycled Clothing on Online
Finding upcycled clothing online is easy to do. There are many companies, such as Urban Outfitters, RE/DONE, and Patagonia, that will sell pieces of upcycled clothing. Their customers return used or unwanted clothing, and the companies remake them into brand new clothes.
If you want to purchase new upcycled clothes from smaller companies or independent designers, try looking at Etsy, Poshmark, and Depop. With these sellers, however, it can be difficult finding the perfect fit or style.
Visit the Online Sustainable Marketplace for Rare, Upcycled Clothing
One of the easiest, newest ways to start upcycling your wardrobe will be to check out RE.STATEMENT, the online platform that sells redesigned clothes from sustainable, talented designers to eco-conscious shoppers who have good taste.
The RE.STATEMENT marketplace’s merchants and designers still have not been revealed to the public yet, but you have to sign up your email to be notified when they launch their first batch of upcycled clothes. However, we have some inside information on some brands and designers they are working with (hmm, I wonder how… ;))
One upcycled brand, for instance, makes pullover sweatshirts from unwanted sweaters, rugs, and scraps of fabric. For example, they recently created a sweatshirt made from two sweaters and a scarf. With just one sweater you can make two different pieces of clothing because they use the unraveled stitches as material. Another brand sells vintage dresses turned into skirts or shorts. And if you love comfy or oversized styles, this site has a variety of clothes made from old t-shirts.
In addition to offering beautiful, distinct statement pieces, RE.STATEMENT also plans on offsetting their carbon consumption from their web operations, shipping, and packaging processes within the next year, and then offsetting their designers’ remanufacturing processes next.
Search for Upcycled Clothing on Social Media
If you’ve ever been on an Instagram influencer’s account or browsed through the Explore feed, then you’ve probably seen someone wearing upcycled clothing. Highly visual social media sites, such as Instagram and TikTok are popular places for upcycled clothing designers to promote and sell their work.
Many sell their repurposed or recycled clothes one by one, and they also like to show their followers the design process they went through to create the product. You can find them by searching for topics or hashtags, such as #Upcycling, #SustainableStyle, or #DIY.
Find Local Markets or Craft Events Near You
Visit your local farmer’s market, craft market, or art event this weekend to see if any designers are selling upcycled products.
Many times, these events are posted on Facebook Events, Eventbrite, or on local “things to do” blogs near you, so you can find the one that works with your schedule. It can be a good way to support local designers and shop small businesses, which makes this way of finding upcycled clothing even more sustainable.
Look for Repurposed Clothing in Thrift Stores, Antique Stores, and Vintage Shops
There are many ways to find repurposed clothing in your area. You can search through antique stores or thrift shops. Sometimes, you’ll be able to find clothing that is new and still has the tags on it and get a good bang for your buck, but filtering for purely upcycled, creative clothing is a little more rare.
Vintage stores tend to have a particular look and feel of upcycled clothes, and there is a perceived value to the retro look these repurposed pieces provide. However, these items tend to be more expensive than other items found at a thrift store.
But don’t worry – there are plenty of treasures to find at a local donation shop or vintage shop, and sometimes the search makes it more fun!
Wrapping Up the Guide to Finding Upcycled Fashion
Shopping for recycled clothing is a great way to save the environment and live a more sustainable lifestyle. Still not sure where to start?
You can find some of the best upcycled clothing online and in thrift stores. But if you’re looking for something more stylish or more unique, sign up to be notified by RE.STATEMENT when the most talented sustainable designers release their newest collections on the marketplace for upcycled statement pieces.