Fashion Revolution, an initiative marked at the end of April each year, was launched in the aftermath of the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh and is aimed at confronting the underlying issues of the fashion industry. The movement’s manifesto calls for better conditions for workers, fair pay and transparent supply chains, as well as protection of the environment and circularity in design – including repairing, recycling and upcycling. With that in mind, we’ve found five brands that are reusing materials and making upcycling look chic in the process.
French fashion brand Marine Serre may be known for its skintight crescent-moon-printed leggings and catsuits, but the LVMH prize-winner also has impressive eco credentials. Since launching in 2017, designer Serre has incorporated upcycling into her business, cutting up vintage woollen knitwear or plaid blankets and turning the material into new garments. The designer’s regenerated denim is perhaps the most covetable: old pairs of jeans are sliced and patchworked together into new sheets of denim, which are then laser-printed with its signature lunar pattern. These are then sewn into jeans and jackets for men and women; naturally, no two pieces are the same. marineserre.com
Ever wondered what happens to the pristine white bed sheets used in luxury hotels when it’s time to replace them? Berlin-based Archivist Studio, founded by Eugenie Haitsma and Johannes Offerhaus in 2019, takes discarded linen and turns it into shirts. The fabric is shipped directly to a family-run workshop near Bucharest, where it’s thoroughly cleaned, cut and sewn into styles such as the brand’s Leisure button-down or subtly striped work shirt. archivist.studio
New York-based designer Emily Adams Bode isn’t the first to reimagine American workwear in a luxury setting. What sets her menswear collections apart, however, is her use of striking textiles, which often come from antique bedding, crochet tablecloths and old saris. One of the brand’s signatures is the Quilt jacket – a slightly cropped style with a standard collar and three patch pockets made out of repurposed antique quilts. Each jacket is made in New York and, by nature of the fabrics, no two are the same. bodenewyork.com
Fashion brand 1/Off Paris takes vintage and secondhand items – sometimes with designer labels – and transforms them into contemporary designs. Dutch co-founders Xuan-Thu Nguyen, who has her own couture label, and Renée van Wijngaarden, who worked at luxury consignment store Vestiaire Collective, launched the label last year with the aim of using up the abundance of clothes that already exist in the world. Take, for example, the brand’s checked blazers, comprised of two different jackets that have been cut in half and stitched together to create a more boxy fit. All the original vintage garments are sourced through a network of buyers in Europe, and all the pieces are made in Paris. 1offparis.com and harveynichols.com
London-based Priya Ahluwalia is another emerging designer who has developed her collections based around using existing fabrics, such as deadstock textiles or upcycled vintage garments. One such piece is the Patrick shirt, part of a capsule collection for Browns, made from vintage cotton shirts sourced in England that have been cut and patchworked together – like a modern take on the Fun shirt. Each is slightly different because of the various combinations of vintage materials. brownsfashion.com