Why upcycling has become the main trend of 2021

    14 Jul 2021

    Upcycling can rightfully be called the primary trend of 2021. So, clothes made by reworking old things have already appeared in the collections of famous brands.

    Upcycling is one way to give new life to things that have lost their appearance and to draw attention to the problem of overconsumption and overproduction. The point is to reuse existing materials without producing new ones.

    With the focus of modern public consciousness on caring for the environment, upcycling has become a noticeable trend. Models made using reworked items of varying degrees of vintage, remnants of fabrics from past collections have already been presented by brands such as Balenciaga, Marni, Coach, Miu Miu. J. W. Anderson and Levis & Ganni, Obozrevatel reports.

    Why upcycling is good and why it is becoming more and more popular

    It makes possible to save your favorite things so that they will delight you more.

    This is a creative and fun process. After all, figuring out exactly how you can use things and making such a rework can be no less exciting than sewing from scratch.

    It allows you to save money. Redoing an existing item is often cheaper than buying a new one or stitching it from scratch.

    It is essential for those who think about the environment. If you are against thoughtless consumption or simply do not like throwing away things that can still serve, the ideology of upcycling will probably be close to you.

    Among other advantages, upcycling is fashionable! And, reshaping old jeans into a banana bag, or making a new one out of an unnecessary jacket, corresponding to the latest trends, you can definitely know that you are not just altering things. You are in trend.

    How upcycling became the primary fashion trend of the pandemic year

    Upcycling has become a notable trend for the spring/summer 2021 season, thanks in part to brands such as Balenciaga, Marni (whose patchwork outerwear was created from existing clothing), and Coach (with their 1970s reworked handbags), vogue.co.uk states. Brands are now scrutinizing how materials can be reused. Miu Miu announced in October that they are launching the new Upcycled collection, an exclusive capsule of 80 dresses reworked from antiques that have been sourced from vintage stores and markets around the world.

    Balenciaga Spring / Summer 2021

    While young designers such as Priya Aluwalia, Bethany Williams, and Emily Adams Bode have made a name for themselves reprinting existing textiles, the fact that major luxury brands have embarked on this practice marks a significant shift in the industry. “We first used recycled goods in 2017,” said Gabriela Hirst, whose Spring / Summer 2021 collection was made up of 60% recycled materials. “It was like using a bad word in good company – you don’t use that word in the vocabulary of luxury clothing.”

    But the constraints imposed by the pandemic have led designers to turn to materials already in their studios rather than working exclusively with new fabrics. JW Anderson recently launched a new capsule collection, Made in Britain, consisting of six pieces made exclusively from leftover fabrics from previous seasons. “The idea for Made in Britain came from the fact that, during the quarantine bans, we began to create clothes from what we already had and work locally,” explains creative director Jonathan Anderson, who also redesigned the items for the Loewe Eye collection. / LOEWE / Nature. “I think we will see more and more upcycling units in the future.”

    JW Anderson, Made in Britain

    The devastating effects of stockpiling

    Unsurprisingly, more and more designers are now turning to upcycling, given that the pandemic has resulted in a massive amount of excess inventory from the Spring / Summer 2020 collections worth between € 140 billion and € 160 billion – more than double the average. In the past, unsold goods have been burned or thrown away by luxury brands in an attempt to preserve their value, part of a shocking practice that has been banned in France for some time now. As customers become increasingly aware of wasteful behavior, it is more important than ever for the industry to tackle this problem sustainably.

    Naturally, eco-brands like Gabriela Hearst have taken material redundancy into their own hands. Hirst recently created an exclusive Retro Fit collection for London’s Selfridges store using existing stock such as recycled cashmere, dyed shirt dresses, and patchwork bucket bags. “When the pandemic hit the stores, we started thinking, how can we reinvent the materials we already have?” says Gabriela.

    Retro fit collection

    A new way to work

    Of course, when reused in the design process, there are also many problems. Marine Serre had to completely rethink her production schedule for the spring/summer 2021 season after realizing that orders for recycled items were taking much longer to complete. “We started work on the garments for the SS21 collection in October 2019, making sure we had enough time to produce them properly,” said the French designer. Working with inventory turns the traditional design process upside down, as designers must commit themselves to create new fabrics without knowing how successful the collection will be in terms of shopping. “We buy most of the fabric in advance, so it poses a greater risk to the designer,” explains Hirst, adding, “I like it because it makes you less wasteful.”

    Despite the challenges, recycling also has clear advantages, including greater exclusivity. Whereas in the past, lack of uniformity was a problem for retailers – because the clothes you receive from the courier may differ from the clothes depicted on the Internet – now shoppers are realizing the uniqueness of these items. “The fact that not all products are identical delights our customers, making them an almost collectible investment,” comments Natalie Kingham, purchasing director at Matchesfashion.com. “Whether it’s a Marine Serre dress made from recycled silk shawls or brightly colored wool blankets reworked into a Rave Review plaid dress.”

    Upcycling is “the new normal”

    With the largest share of the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions from textiles, it is imperative that the reuse of existing materials becomes standard practice. “We have enough fabrics we have already produced, but we still make a ton of garments from virgin materials, ”says Sarah Arnold, co-founder of Fashion Act Now.

    Of course, the fundamental problem of overproduction in the fashion industry needs to be adrealizedressed. “It’s important that major retailers rethink the sheer amount of clothing they buy,” comments Lantink. “They have to change their thinking.”

    However, it could be a big step in the right direction for big brands to finally switch to upcycling, especially if it becomes the new fashion norm. “So many people are starting upcycling these days,” concludes Lantink. “Although it is still difficult for brands and retailers to view this as a trend.”

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