In 2017, about 13 million tons of textiles were kicked into landfills or burned in the United States. That’s roughly 85% of all discarded clothing in the country. Textile waste is a massive issue, as 92 million tons of it are created every year. Luckily, fashion brands are giving unwanted textiles a brand new life. Here are five cutting-edge upcycling brands that make incredibly creative and beautiful garments out of previously neglected fabrics.
1. Bethany Williams
On Bethany Williams’ Instagram, she says her brand is “working with social projects and communities to give textiles a second chance.” Her pieces are filled with color, and it’s evident that she enjoys exploring different textures and creating something unique out of preexisting textiles and garments. The flattering silhouettes, paired with eye-grabbing patterns and shapes, make her work instantly recognizable.
Korean brand Re;Code takes ready-made products like seat covers, fabric linings in cars, airbags, waste from their sister companies, and even airbags and turns them into garments and accessories. You would never know their pieces are recycled just by looking at them. Everything is modern with plenty of clean lines and made with easy-to-wear fabrics. There’s a nice mix of simple garments like oversized t-shirts with a few more unique pieces like their half-pleat skirt that’s supported by a waist belt.
3. Rokit Originals
Rokit is a vintage or secondhand store, but their original garments are the company’s hidden gem. The clothing in the Rokit Originals collection is made with recycled, vintage, and deadstock material and is all sustainable and timeless. The collection has a nice balance of classic and more eccentric pieces with tye-dye jeans displayed next to elegant black dresses. There is a little something for everyone there.
Rokit also boasts an impressive selection of vintage finds from nearly 100 brands.
The KINdom Circle: Upcycled Collection supports their environmental initiative to “Promote closed-loop production by upcycling, and fostering partnerships and collaborations with like-minded individuals or companies for a more circular economy.” There is a noticeable range in the style of pieces available, with some being more colorful and elaborately stitched than others. The painted jackets are particularly stylish.
KINdom also sells other ethically made garments, several accessories, and ships everything in compostable packaging.
This Kenyan brand makes backpacks, satchels, and laptop sleeves out of recycled fabrics and African fabrics from around the area. Most of their pieces are super colorful and celebrate African prints. Usually, denim is used for the bag’s structure with other textiles sprinkled in here or there to keep things interesting and add their signature pop of color. There’s no denying Suave makes happy-looking bags and the fact that they are made from upcycled fabrics makes us happy, too!
Please Don’t Throw Away Old Clothes!
These five brands are proof that incredible things can be done with textiles most companies or individuals would just throw away. The next time you’re considering throwing away a super worn top or ratty pair of jeans, please find a local textile recycling bin and recycle them. It’s a small step that makes a big difference.
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