We'd all probably agree the word 'upcycling' in relation to clothes has in past times conjured slightly 'leftfield' connotations: a joss stick infused Camden Market circa 1995 vibe; probably featuring tie dye; fairly definately (in my case) featuring various unlikely clothing partners home stitched together Frankenstein style. (BTW When I was a teenager/art student Camden Market was the centre of my universe so don't get me wrong, I speak from a place of love.)
However the current environmental need to radically change our shopping habits means that the humble art of creating something new from clothing and textiles that have already had a life is back in the spotlight. Because while the steps towards recyclable fabrics are the future, an incredibly low 10% of all clothing in the UK is recycled and only 8% reused. Buying and producing clothes created from unwanted clothing and fabric isn't the only answer, but it helps.
So upcycling ( Ahem- It's been rebranded repurposing now) has had a reinvention. And today I’m curating a selection of grown up loveliness (No whiff of joss sticks here) from brands that allow those of us dipping a toe into repurposing to make the transition with ease. A few have featured before on my independent and preloved blogs; All are excellent and uplevelled. (The main obstacle is that many upcycled pieces are often eyewateringly luxe in pricepoint- i've tried to stay in the acceptable arena) Here are a baker's dozen of options I'm loving:
1. THE DAILY DRESS EDIT: THE DEADSTOCK PROJECT
Isabel Spearman of the Daily Dress Edit ( If you don't know DDE look it up immediately) has recently collaborated with 8 high street brands: each producing a a piece from otherwise discarded deadstock: The pieces went live last Monday at Isabel's regular pop up but can be purchased through the individual brands and on the Daily Dress Edit site. Get in quick.
2. HOTEL VETEMENTS A Danish love affair by Alexandra Hartman born from a wish to revive discarded treasures, after a discovery of old curtains outside a hotel in Paris. The brand taps into the symbolism of the hotel experience: forgotten curtains, linens, tablecloths and cotton sheets from Paris to Provence. It's giving me all sorts of Wes Anderson feels.
3. ELVIS AND KRESSE
Pioneers in the upcycling trend, Elvis and Kresse was etablished in 2005 to save London's damaged and decommissioned fire hoses from going to landfill. 18 years later the brand makes high end accessories from 15 different reclaimed materials, (including amazing travel bags featuring discarded Burberry leather) with a percentage of profits going to the firefighters charity.
4. 46 STITCH
A British accessories brand created by former fashion buyer Hannah Gilmour, who produces limited run collections from fabric remnents alongside liberty prints and artisan fabrics from Delhi. Sustainability is transparent across the site, down to reusing threads and her 'no waste' pouches.
Natasha Fernandes Anjo has gained insta fame from her ‘Furoshiki ( Japanese wrapping cloth) meets scrunchie’ vegan bags. She uses deadstock and remnent fabrics in house in the North of England and delivers worldwide on a mainly made to order and bespoke service.
6. FANFARE THE LABEL
Founded by Esther Knight after a career in fashion buying exposed her to the less sustainable side of the industry, Fanfare gives a second story to pieces already in existence with a sustainable and moral ethos, with reworked jeans the highlight. ( You can have your own jeans bespoke upcycled) Fanfare has been recognised by Drapers, Forbes, the Guardian and Stylist.
7. FREYA SIMONNE
Ex designer Freya wanted to create something that aligned with her values and the brand was born to encourage people to reconnect with textiles they already own and reimagine them in new ways. She works only with material that are already in existence creating modern heirloom pieces fow women and children.
8. THE WELLWORN
The ethos of the wellworn is reworked, remade, reworn: to use all the beautiful things that already exist. Founder and ex consultant Emma Searches vintage markets and fairs for unique fabric, trims and reimagined with vintage patterns with a modern twist. There are also reworked vintage pieces online.
Tabby Bunyan started Re-considered during lockdown, after writing her university dissertation on the impacts of fast fashion: a London based circular fashion business offering custom rework transforming pieces you no longer wear ( duvet cover anyone?) into new items plus selling in house collections of reworked fabrics.
10. MAISON M Friends Mooi and Margarita have a passion for storytelling and preserving craftsmanship, They offer a broad 'market place' style range online including reworked collections: Their quilted totes are reworked from vintage patchwork quilts and their ss 2023 collaboration with circa Ibiza ( coming soon) - uses vintage gold upcycled with ‘ a little bit of Ibiza magic’.
11. E.L.V DENIM ( East London Vintage) Founded by stylist Anna Foster in 2018, ELV is a zero waste upcycled denim brand with insta fabulous credentials , that sources unwanted jeans from vintage warehouses across the UK and transforms them into unique pairs designed and produced in East London. The brand has now branched out to an entire clothing range.
12. O PIONEERS
The London brand was founded by friends Clara Francis and Tania Hindmarch to produce beautiful timeless dresses for everyday. They work with deadstock fabric and vintage fabrics in limited batches, crafted by local seamstresses, and drawing inspiration from vintage sewing patterns. They are now stocked at Net a Porter giving ultimate credibility and showing that repurposed can still be elevated.
13. BY ELLEVEN Joanne and Rachel founded By Eleven during lockdown. They create affordable and sustainable unisex wardrobe essentials with a clean modern ethos, including a 'reimagined vintage' section of blazers ad shirts with bespoke embroidery.
So a baker's dozen of brands I am loving who repurpose, work with vintage and use deadstock fabric. There are tonnes more, please do add in comments any other upcycling independents you love.
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