Upcycled Fashion: Everything You Need To Know!

in Upcycling



Fashion is always changing, and perhaps that’s just one reason most Americans toss out around 70 pounds of clothing and related items every year (and this trend is similar throughout most of the western world!). 

The impact of throwing out so much clothing is creating alarming consequences for the environment. Rather than reusing clothing, or holding onto it for years, the majority of clothing (almost three-fifths, to be exact) is tossed out within a year of initial purchase. 

We like to think the world is generally becoming much more eco-conscious, readily jumping on board with everything from sustainable food products and eco-homewares, right through to greener transport and upcycled fashion.


What is Upcycled Fashion?

Upcycled fashion takes the clothes that would otherwise be thrown away and reinvents them. The whole principle behind upcycling clothing is to take used garments and create new looks. As a result, clothing is given a new look, and new life, rather than adding to waste in a landfill. 


Benefits to Upcycling Fashion

Lower Cost of Production

Production costs can be very high when businesses are having new materials made for them all time. By reusing and repurposing materials, the business saves money on supply costs and can, in turn, lower consumer costs. 

Reduced Waste in the Form of Clothing and Fabric

In the past, a lot of used clothing and extra unused fabrics ended up going in the garbage and landfills. By giving consumers an alternative option to simply throwing out their used clothes, upcycled fashion brands are helping to reduce this type of waste. 

Likewise, many of them are making good use of extra fabric from other clothing companies that might have otherwise ended up being thrown out. 

Protecting Natural Resources

Creating new materials can really take a toll on our planet’s natural resources. Upcycling fashion is an alternative means of acquiring materials without having to rely on these natural resources that are already being used in excess by many industries.


How to Upcycle Your Clothes

Pick What Flatters You

Everybody wants to look their best, and you don’t have to buy new clothing to do it. Think of your favourite items, like the ones you’ve considered a staple of your wardrobe for years. These are the clothes you know make you feel, and look good, no matter what. 

Consider what makes those items so special? Is it the colour, the silhouette, or the material? When you upcycle clothes, look for items with those characteristics, and build a new outfit based on them. 

Play with Colour

Just because you’re upcycling clothes doesn’t mean you won’t be able to make amazing colour combinations. Look for tones that compliment you, and compliment each other. You can use colours that match exactly or ones that make the outfit really pop. Even if you want to keep your upcycled outfit mostly the same colour, you can always add a pop of colour in the collar or trim. 

Explore Your Style

Upcycling fashion gives you a great opportunity to explore different styles and find your personal niche. Don’t be afraid to try a new style if you’re feeling adventurous. Since you’re upcycling, you’re already preventing waste, so you don’t have to feel guilty about buying new clothes you might not like as much later. Plus, you can always tailor them to fit a different style later. Boho fashions are a great way to start upcycling, and chances are you can find some great retro designs to build off too. In the end, don’t be afraid to explore a bit and fine-tune your personal style. 

Think About Location and Occasion

When you get started with upcycling, it can be tempting to focus on one occasion or location you’d like to wear your new creations. Keep an open mind and let the clothes inspire you. You can create upcycled seasonal looks, and outfits for casual wear, or even for work (provided uniforms aren’t required). As you get more familiar with upcycling fashion, you’ll be able to see potential uses in more and more items. 




What to Upcycle?

Use Old Favorites to Redecorate

Old hoodies and sweaters are ideal for redecorating your space. They’re already a cosy favourite, so use that to your advantage. These items are ideal for creating comfy pillow covers, throws, and even a new blanket. If there’s a sweatshirt you’re hanging onto because you love the printing, or because they bring good memories, think about using those. Just because you don’t wear them anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy them.

Spruce up Tired Shoes

Maybe you’re holding onto those old shoes because there’s no other pair quite as comfortable. That said, just because they’re comfy doesn’t mean they fit your style. Consider using fabric glue to paint your old shoes and adding some glitter. You can get creative and try new designs, or cover the entire shoe. You’re not limited to glitter, either. You can use sequins, pre-strung beads, or even paint to give those shoes a new look.

Use T-shirts to Make Hair Accessories

Old t-shirts are ideal for making new headbands. They’re worn and stretchy enough to fit easily, and you can combine a ton of different colours and textures for the look you want. You can keep it simple, with a wrapped headband, or get a little fancy with some knots, braiding, and weaving. Most of the time, there’s very little, if any sewing needed, and no sewing machine required.

Reinvent Old Shirts with a Few Snips

T-shirts are one of the best and most versatile things to upcycle. If you make a small cutout near the collar, you have an instant choker shirt. If that’s not your style, consider finding a favourite shirt and cutting the sleeves and back to make a halter top. The halter top is ideal for shirts you love, but that doesn’t fit you how they currently are. 

Use Denim

Denim is a classic textile, and it’s pretty hard to wrong when you upcycle it. You can add patches of colourful fabric to pockets to give life to your favourite jeans. If you want a bigger transformation, you can use slim strips of fabric to add a pop of colour by striping the sides. If you want to make it even easier, just find a medium width ribbon with the colour or design you like and use that. Another great way to upcycle denim? Make it into an apron that inspires you to get in the kitchen. You can upcycle even more, and use a fabric you like to edge the apron and add some funky pockets and straps.


Upcycled Velvety Brands

Which brands at Velvety use the upcycling principle?














What is Recycling?

Recycling is really about totally breaking down an object and creating something entirely new. When you buy something made with recycled materials, chances are that you’ll never know what the original materials were. Recycling is important for the environment, but there’s very little creativity in the process. It’s more of industrial activity, rather than an artistic one. 


What Makes Upcycling Different?

With upcycling, you’re not breaking down the original item to create something entirely different. Yes, the finished item will be distinctly unique, but you aren’t taking it apart entirely. 
The real principle behind upcycling is to give new life to things that would otherwise go to waste. There’s still some semblance of the original form, but it’s creatively reformed to maintain usefulness. It’s a way to keep the things you love while making them current. 

In Summary

As the world moves towards more eco-friendly solutions, the fashion industry isn’t lacking far behind. Fashion brands are becoming more aware of the massive waste problem as the industry grows. Because of this, upcycled fashion is likely more of a long-term solution rather than a brief trend.