Upcycling: The need of the hour in the fashion industry

Upcycling: The need of the hour in the fashion industry

The thought of upcycled or refashioned garments can be unusual in a society still churning out trendy, casting-out fashion items at dizzying pace. It is, nevertheless, a constantly expanding trend and one of the most sustainable things that people can do. Since upcycling employs existing parts, it frequently makes little use of resources when creating them and actually retains the waste stream from "unwanted" things.

The apparel business faced a slew of issues as the covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc throughout industries. This has necessitated the revamping of all our processes, from manufacturing to consumption. The discourse has shifted from a free-wheeling one about fashion weeks and trends to a more serious one about sustainability and the dangers of mass production. As of now, the fashion winds appear to be shifting toward mindful consumerism and a burgeoning phenomenon - upcycling from the trash stream.

Upcycling pre-existing clothing is one technique to assure sustainability because it promotes the concept of cyclical fashion. To 'upcycle,' you take something that has already been manufactured and improve on it or make it into a new item, which means you are not looking for new, raw materials to start from begin. It means that outdated clothes are kept in use rather than being discarded.

Why Upcycling is the need of the hour?

Today, the world produces more textiles than it consumes; many huge clothing chains can generate up to a half-billion garments per year. And what happens to those clothes once their 'useful' life is over? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, around 14.3 million tonnes of textiles were discarded in 2012, accounting for approximately 5.7 percent of total municipal solid trash generation in the United States.

Unwanted clothing is frequently donated to thrift stores if it is not discarded as trash. Though this is a helpful step toward avoiding landfills, it is not as beneficial as many people believe - only approximately 20 to 30 percent of donated clothes are resold. And, in the last 15 years, the enormous growth in the number of second-hand clothing has driven down its value, meaning that charity shop storefronts are now stocked with cheap fashion and junky necessities rather than vintage gems.

Further, large quantities of donated clothing that are not deemed "re-tradable" in the United States are exported to developing nations and flooded with needless items that hamper any growing economical textile developments. Although many individuals may have the concept of assisting the impoverished in these nations to clothe, access to the Internet and to cell phones has lately enhanced substantially in many of these countries and they may not be interested in the developed countries’ cast-offs. Because this business is based on a trash economy, where products are bought and discarded instead of mending clothing or leasing clothes – what if exports are no longer an option?

What does upcycling mean in the fashion industry?

Upcycling and recycling cannot be utilised interchangeably, contrary to popular assumptions. While recycling refers to the process of an old product being utilised for the production of new product, upcycling is a far deeper process - the creative use of a previously deemed waste item to generate a new totally utilised product. Upcycling is the ideal choice for designers and other leading brands looking for sustainable solutions to lessen their impact on the earth. As we go towards a more consumer-friendly scenario, this solution is simply adopted by many well-known labels and fashion firms. It is not only sustainable, but also adds value to clothing waste and produces fashion items that are of great quality.

How Upcycling is beneficial for the Fashion Industry?

Our environment needs it - Certain materials used in garments may in fact entail hazardous substances throughout the manufacturing process that might contribute to environmental problems, such as soil damage and air pollution. These chemicals are also at risk of entering our waterways, air supplies and many others. Upcycling reduces the demand for additional raw materials, which reduces the requirement for certain chemicals to be utilised during production. This technique contributes to addressing issues such as poor air quality, the quantity of waste that ends up in landfills, water contamination, greenhouse emissions, and the preservation of our rainforests.

Reduction of Manufacturing costs - Upcycling can help enterprises in the garment sector reduce their overall production costs. Using this strategy, shops can reuse materials for their items rather than having new materials manufactured. Upcycling not only benefits the environment, but it may also help businesses save money on materials and labour. Another significant advantage is that it might lead to higher profit margins.

Helps in preserving the natural resources - The reduced demand for new materials can save both money and natural resources, as I have already said. When a retail fashion business employs certain materials, such as bamboo, for a pair of earrings but may instead use recycled bamboo, the need to cut down further trees is reduced. The number of natural resources utilised in the whole mode can be reduced by upcycling. This can be useful for problems such as deforestation or natural fibre loss.

Promotes local companies and businesses- One of the main advantages of upcycling is that it helps local companies and industries. Updating helps to strengthen community economy, from manufacturers to suppliers of sustainable waste management to local resellers. This is also beneficial in creating new collaborations for brands. The need to outsource to manufacturers that contain dangerous products has dramatically reduced by taking advantage of upcycling and local firms.

The appeal of Upcycling attracts customers- Consumers in today's society continually learn where the items they buy come from and how they are produced. Due to the crisis in our environment, it is more and more vital for consumers that their purchases are environmentally friendly. 93% of consumers around the world expect enterprises to participate in environmental issues, according to Forbes. What most businesses don't realise is that upcycling not only saves them money, but also makes them money. Customers are more ready to buy things they know are of high quality, have been recycled, and are contributing to the fight to save the world.

Provisions for increased creative liberty - Most fashion goods today are mass-produced and have a very uniform style. Using reused textiles enables for the creation of distinctive, fashionable lines as well as the expansion of what merchants can showcase. To know how to effectively use recycled items, you must have a very creative mind and an eye for fashionable patterns. Upcycling presents designers with fresh difficulties worthy of an episode of Project Runway.

To conclude with….

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the act of converting by-products, waste materials, worthless, or undesirable things into new materials or products of higher quality, such as artistic or environmental value. So take a look around, repurpose, renovate, and redesign.

Given that the fashion industry's future is built on reimagining the past, one thing is certain: upcycling is here to stay. 

Tell us what you think about upcycling in the comments area below.

If you are concerned about the environment and worry about the excess clothes which are dumped in the landfills, then look no far as SWAP FASHIONS ( is a very viable option to look upto for thrifting preloved fashion.
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