The Upside of an Upcycle

Repurpose and rediscover joy from your clothing

Upcycling vs Recycling – what’s the difference?

Let’s begin with a working definition: Upcycling = “re-use (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original”.  (Oxford Dictionary)

Recycling is about completely breaking down an object and recreating something new, that often bears no resemblance to the original product.  Recycling is less creative than upcycling and is more of an environmental and industrial necessity, rather than a creative one.

Understanding Upcycling

Upcycling is reimagining and reinventing how pre-loved and no longer worn items of clothing in your wardrobe could take on a new life.  It encourages you to consider new and innovative ways to re-style and re-use your clothing before mindlessly throwing them away.  We all have those pieces in our wardrobes that were once cherished.  But as trends fade and eventually die out, so too can our love and enthusiasm for a particular style.  A change in season and decline of a trend doesn’t have to mark the death of a once adored piece of clothing.  Upcycling is a way of getting creative with what we already own.  By changing the length of a dress, blouse or top, removing a sleeve, adding a collar or cuff, you can extend the life of clothing and transform its existing style.

When we fall in love with clothing, there are often more factors at play than just the shape of the garment.  We fall in love with the colour, print, fabrication, texture, the way we feel when we wear it.  The best pieces have an enduring quality that can supersede the original style.

“For me, upcycling is a creative re-use of pieces that I love but can’t really wear and can’t let go of.” – Claudia

Why Upcycling is More Important Than Ever

Perhaps it is naïve to think that contemporary consumers are becoming more ethical and environmentally minded when Australians throw away 6000 KG’s of clothing every 10 minutes, according to the following ABC article War on Waste.

On a global scale,  the fashion industry is responsible for more than 10% of yearly carbon emissions.  Frighteningly, these statistics only skim the surface of the wider impact that the fashion industry has on the planet.  Every footprint counts and upcycling the fashion you already own can be rewarding on so many levels

The Natural Benefits of Upcycling Fashion

As a conscious consumer, having a basic understanding of some of the processes that go into the production of textiles is a good place to start. With the creation of every new fashion garment, there is a heavy reliance on natural resources, which eventually negatively impacts the Earth.  When fabrics can be re-used and repurposed beyond their first life, we break the chain of needless waste – of textiles and clothing ending up in landfills.

A How-to Guide to Upcycling

Step 1: Rediscover Your Wardrobe Treasures

If you want to try upcycling, begin with the items in your wardrobe that you were once very fond of but no longer wear. Most likely, these pieces evoke a positive feeling or sense of sentimentality. Now ask yourself, what can be changed or added to these once beloved items, to make them utilised and useful once more?

Step 2: Embrace a Diverse Color Palette

Don’t be afraid of colour. Be daring. Mix and match colour palettes you have never tried. It’s often surprising to discover a whole new colour family that suits our colouring that we have previously dismissed. Hold garments up to your face in natural lighting and honestly assess how flattering a shade is on you. Ask a friend for a second opinion. When beginning the upcycling adventure, play and experiment with colour combinations before you cut and alter.

Step 3: Break Free from Occasion-Specific Planning

Think outside the ‘occasions’ box. Don’t limit your creativity by outfit planning for a specific event or location. Be inspired by the process and keep an open mind about the end goal and end wear. Because upcycling requires little to no investment, you can afford to be experimental and play with styles you’ve wanted to try but perhaps haven’t felt brave enough to. You are always free to alter and adjust things later on.

At Claudia Hackman, we want to encourage and inspire our readers to have fun with fashion in ways that have a positive impact on the environment.  By extending the lives of your pre-loved garments through upcycling, you contribute to a long-term solution, rather than adding to the trend-driven fast-fashion crisis.

Feeling inspired? Kick off your upcycling journey today! Dive into our free Wardrobe Detox guide, brimming with expert tips and tricks to transform your closet.

Claudia xx

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