by Camille Mansuy - AYCH ambassador
With 100 billion of clothes produced per year, fashion in 2020, is the second most polluting industry in the world. The rising of ‘fast Fashion’ during the last decade has led to double the amount of clothes produced between 2000 and 2014 and more often than not, the designs only respond to the trend of one season and that will not be worn again the following year. As a result, 4 million tonnes of textiles goes to the « trash » every year and for the majority directly into landfill…Whilst the production process of clothes is often questioned, the recycling process cannot be ignored. And if we could simply produce new from old? That is what upcycling offers.
From middle range to luxury brands, upcycling has become increasingly more popular and was recently seen on catwalks during 2020 Fashion week. So, what is exactly upcycling? « Also known as creative reuse, upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value » (source: Wikipedia 15/06/2020). Transposed to the fashion industry, upcycling is the possibility to give a second life to clothes or fabrics that have already lived.
Why is upcycling interesting? Of course it is beneficial to reuse existing and deadstock fabrics to produce new clothes and accessories in support of reducing the amount of waste produced by the fashion industry. But in addition to this, the process of reusing also reduces the amount of water and chemicals used within manufacturing which are particularly harmful for the environment. However, upcycling also has a deeper meaning. It is built on rethinking the whole production process, from the birth to death of the product in order to create a virtuous circle: the circular economy. By building partnerships through sourcing fabrics and selecting certain factories led by individuals and groups who all share the same vision to build a long-term project that positively contributes to the environment and economy, we can develop a more positive outlook for the future.
But more than this, it enables brands to get out of standardisation and propose unique piece or only small collections. It replaces the fabrics at the core of the process, resulting it more soul by conveying a past story and creativity through a second life. Upcycling is the way to rediscover the real sense of fashion design and the real use of the clothes. Upcycling is a process that can be adopted by everyone and not only by brands. Custom an old shirt with simple embroideries, take an old jean and make a bag with it. It is easy, not necessarily expensive. A little change for a bigger change.
Some examples of brands that take part into upcycling: Les Récupérables, Patagonia, Hermès (Petit h), Asos
 www.novethic.fr « Les 10 chiffres chocs du gaspillage vestimentaire à avoir en tête avant de faire les soldes » 08/01/2019 (https://www.novethic.fr/actualite/social/consommation/isr-rse/infographie-les-10-chiffres-chocs-du-gaspillage-vestimentaire-a-avoir-en-tete-avant-de-faire-les-soldes-146769.html)
 “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends” (source: google).