Recycling is good, but upcycling is better – at least, in the context of fashion


Delving deeper into the practice of upcycling in fashion, on the occasion of Global Recycling Day (March 18). Photo: AFP

The upcycling trend is not exactly new, but it has been building steadily since the beginning of the global health crisis and now has a prominent presence in various fields – fashion being a big adopter.

On the occasion of Global Recycling Day (March 18), we take a look at this forward-looking approach to the idea of reuse that is gaining a growing number of followers among both brands and shoppers.

The word has been on everyone's lips for several months, heralding a new solution for dressing greener. But what does it mean exactly? Isn't recycling enough?

Read more: Even in Malaysia, fashion goes 'green': why is sustainability so trendy now?

Well actually no, because upcycling is essentially "recycling from the top", a more ethical and green approach than secondhand.

What you need to know is that this new practice can help you quickly revolutionise your wardrobe.

"Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed."

Is there a more appropriate quote today for fashion, among other areas, than that of chemist Antoine Lavoisier, even though it was first uttered several centuries ago?

As we know, fashion is eternally looking to the new while also going through cycles, but it is clear that today that major fashion houses, brands and designers are looking for solutions to reinvent themselves and offer collections that have a much lower impact on the planet than they do today.

Giving waste added value

What better way to celebrate this practice than on Global Recycling Day? Practiced by an increasing number of brands, upcycling offers a kind of added value to waste or unused objects, in other words transforming them into better quality pieces.

It therefore goes far beyond traditional recycling with a circular approach that should allow fashion to generate less waste, produce less, and therefore limit its impact on the environment.

Among the labels that have already made changes by embracing upcycling is Marine Serre, one of the pioneers in the field, whose Maree Noire (Oil Slick) collection, presented in September 2019, included several upcycled pieces.

Read more: Why is the fashion industry so enamoured with the capsule wardrobe trend?

The designer recovered stocks of leftover fabrics to give them a second life, and a much more high-end one at that.

Meanwhile Banana Moon also transformed its fabric scraps and cutoffs into a collection of swimwear for Summer 2020, and Gant presented a capsule range of upcycled shirts designed from fabric remnants from previous collections.

These are just a few of the many cases; upcycled collections have been coming out at a rapid pace over the past year.

And on this day devoted to recycling, one idea is to invest in pieces made from materials, or even waste, that would never have caught your eye in the first place.

Once you try upcycling you probably won't be able to stop yourself from embracing the idea. – AFP Relaxnews

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