Thursday, 26 April 2018

Fashion Revolution Week: Creative Ways to Reuse, Restyle & Repurpose Clothes

Fashion Revolution: creative ways to reuse, restyle and repurpose your clothes including visible mending, vegan leather and customising
This week is Fashion Revolution Week; a very important date in the fashion calendar to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza Factory collapse and ask brands the question, #WhoMadeMyClothes? We have done a lot surrounding this in the past 3 years, including giving a workshop at last year's Edinburgh event. Unfortunately, we couldn't be involved this year but you can find all the details here.

Now, while we want conditions to improve for women in these factories, the last thing we want you want to do is throw all your fast fashion out in disgust when the energy has already gone into creating them. Instead of discussing #WhoMadeMyClothes again (because our last set of info was pretty darn good already!), we thought we would look instead at creative ways to give new life to those items you've already bought and really make them count. Some of these are inspiration for DIY and some are just brilliant innovations already being implemented by brands:

1.)  Boro Clothes Mending
A fantastic mending technique that is popping up everywhere is the Japanese boro mending technique, where mismatching denims are bound (i.e. patched). A fun part of this is sashiko stiching. Instead of hiding any repairs as you'd normally imagine, this style aims to point directly to the imperfections and turn it into art itself. Some of this is simply bold contrast colours in the stitches used, while other examples create elaborate designs on top to create a whole new look. Some are really incredible- it's a far cry from elbow pads! Design Sponge has a great tutorial for 3 ways to try it out and we love the collection of glove visible mending by Collingwood-Norris.
Fashion Revolution: creative ways to reuse, restyle and repurpose to make it last longer
2.) Repurposing fabrics
Clothing donation points might be rising in high street shops but unfortunately it comes at a time when African countries like Kenya aim to drastically reduce the amount of clothing accepted (in order to boost the local production economy- hooray!) This means that well-intended recycling by us may end up just being reduced guilt dumping. However, there are lots of designers using repurposed fabrics to create something new that can go back into the UK economy for a fresh spin. One of our favourites include Thrifty Little.
Fashion Revolution: Thrifty Little repurposing fabrics to create new accessories
3.) Recycling into fabrics
Taking upcycling one stage further, some designers are attempting to reduce plastic consumption by recycling it into usable materials, so that it becomes something totally different! This is very important because plastic isn't recyclable in the way that glass etc is, to be reused in the same format. The quality really varies and degrades in the recycling process. In the past, recycled fabrics were used by niche brands that weren't exactly... stylish...In come hero brands like Batoko swimwear, whose textiles come from recycled waste materials such as carpet and fishing nets. We are also fans of Matt & Nat bags, who cleverly synthesise leather with vegan alternatives and line their bags with recycled plastic bottles. For more info, Brit & Co has a brilliant list of some other fashion brands recycling materials in this way.
Fashion Revolution: creative ways to restyle your old clothes to make something new
4.) Replacing elements
One of the things that inspired this blog post was an instagram story by my old University residence neighbour @lizzie_garthwaite,who wrote to Denman brushes to ask to replace only the bristle/rubber part of her old hairbrush (and reuse the handle). It's a clever idea - and they sent her one for free! It's tempting to think that you might as well replace a whole item rather than parts, unless it's the usual repairs, like shoe soles, buttons or zippers. One thing I often do is remove straps from bags when they wear through (or sometime just because I don't like them) to make a clutch bag, or add a new chain or fabric strap. Helen is a total wizard at this type of repair. We are in need of some inspo for this one though- send us your recommendations!
Fashion Revolution: creative ways to upcycle your clothes
By the way, if you'd like to learn more about sustainable brands in UK, we really recommend that you follow @EthicalHour and join in the #EthicalHour chat on Monday evenings. We don't dip in as often now but we've met lots of new people on it and the community is enormous now!

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