A new life

A new life

Stories like Chloé’s are becoming more and more common in the world of fashion, and in recent years the upcycling has ceased to be a rarity to become one of the main motivations in the creative process of brands and designers who seek to reduce the environmental impact of their collections while offering an alternative for textiles and materials that can have a second life in wardrobes around the world. world.

The Cambridge dictionary defines upcycling as “the activity of making new furniture and objects from old or used things or waste material”. And although this concept does not include textiles, the truth is that this term has become an integral part of the slow fashiona movement that seeks to produce and consume garments and accessories in a more conscious and respectful way through quality, artisanal methods and, of course, the environment.

Today, the ecological cost of the fashion industry is more relevant than ever: according to figures from the Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, the fashion industry generates around 92 million tons of waste garments that go ending up in landfills like the one in the Atacama desert, in Chile, images that generated outrage on social networks just a few weeks ago.

In this context, the premise of upcycling It’s very simple: use garments and textiles to create new designs and thus prevent them from ending up classified as garbage. And there are many ways to put this approach into practice within the fashion industry.


Upcycling in fashion is not new: in many Victorian homes, modifying or repairing garments was commonplace, as was using other household textiles. Pop culture has a great example in the drapery dress that Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara wore in gone With the Wind. But curtains aside, this practice was so common that designs still survive in some museums around the world that can be considered upcycling.

High fashion is no stranger to this phenomenon, but until a few years ago, few designers were able to spark conversation on the subject.

Miguel Adrover was one of the strongest voices in this movement: in less than a decade, the Spanish creative revolutionized the way fashion was perceived with his collections. In them he presented unique pieces that he made with recycled materials when the term sustainability was still unknown to many people.

In his fall/winter 2000 collection, Adrover went even further, creating a dress from a Burberry trench coat lining and a coat with items from the apartment of litterateur Quentin Crisp, who had died weeks before the show. “He was lying on the sidewalk, the mattress shapeless. But with a lot of knowledge, that of sharing someone’s dream of freedom, something invaluable like the fabric that I was lucky enough to rescue from conventionalism, trying to bring some light to the memory of who was my neighbor, “he explained about the outfit, which can now be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

H&M is one of the brands most committed to upcycling. In the image, installations of Recycling System Loopthe new program of the Swedish firm.


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However, Adrover has not been the only one to join this movement in recent years: for Comme des Garçons’ Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, Rei Kawakubo surprised the specialized press by showing garments made from vintage scarves.

As the seasons went by, new creatives joined the proposal with unique proposals in which the upcycling of garments and materials were an important part of its brand identity. Thus, for a decade, the American firm Eckhaus Latta has broken schemes. Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta designed their first collections exclusively with discarded textiles or unconventional materials, later deepening their impact by being one of the first firms to offer designs genderless and a selection of models that defied beauty canons before other firms decided to do so.

Likewise, the French Marine Serre has taken up this approach in collections that reuse all kinds of textiles and materials. Through them, the LVMH award winner not only seeks to offer sustainable production methods, but also a clear identity for its consumers. “What I have always disliked about fashion are trends. When you know who you are, you don’t need to change your face every morning,” she explained.

But much of the popularity of upcycling today it is due to the work of Demna Gvasalia. The current creative director of Balenciaga surprised locals and strangers with the transformation of vintage jeans and sportswear into luxury pieces during his first collections for Vetements. This movement, which he qualifies as hackinghas spread to other firms such as Coach or Maison Margiela, while brands such as Desigual have been able to connect with their roots with a second-hand denim collection inspired by the Iconic Jacket.

This trend has also reached the bridal market. At the beginning of the year, the Spanish firm Pronovias and Nicole Milano announced the launch of Second Life, a line of dresses that, from the design point of view, are destined to be modified and worn as gala or cocktail garments and whose repairs are carried out by the mark after the wedding. “This is an innovative project because what we are doing is giving new life to dresses that are only worn once,” said Alessandra Rinaudo, artistic director of the firm, in a statement.

a new life
For Marine Serre, one of the most in-demand Parisian designers, the upcycling It is much more than a simple trend. In the image, total look of the French firm.