“Nature does not know the concept of waste; the only species capable of making something no one desires is the human species.”
—Gunter Pauli, Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives
Forget recycling. Yeah, it reduces our consumption of raw materials, but the hottest eco-fashion trend since organic cotton is “upcycling”, which truly transforms trash into treasure. Mainstreamed by William McDonough, the concept takes landfill diversion one step further; Instead of recycling waste into new materials of similar value or downcycling it into lower-quality materials, upcycling transforms it into a new product that’s even more valuable. For instance, hand made which is recycled paper is lower quality than paper whereas upcycling in this case would be making something out of paper that would have more value.
Now, promoted by celebrities and endorsed by top fashion brands, eco-fashion or also known as Trashion is no longer a trend but has become a movement in the fashion industry. It gets people to think and use waste differently. Many designers from all parts of the world have attached themselves to making fashion going green. Maybe not everyone knows that Salvatore Ferragamo, aka “the shoemaker of dreams”, was one of the first designers to use recycled materials for his creations. He noted that candy wrappers were a strong material and braided them to create the upper part of his shoes in the 1940s. Colin Firths wife, Livia Firth is one of the pioneers of the movement “Green Carpet Challenge” where she challenged designers to create ‘Red carpet Green Dresses’ made entirely of sustainable materials. Cameron Diaz and Meryl Streep joined her in this movement by wearing gowns to the Oscars made by designers stella McCarteney and Lanvin respectively. Other brands like Chanel, Gucci, YSL and Armani have also started creating eco-designs or “ecouterre” as some designers call it – couture that is eco-friendly.
Fashion is not just about clothing, its incomplete without shoes and accessories. The Ballet Flats made up of Newspapers, dipped in plastic to make it more durable. The Bag is made up of up cycled crochet fabric, pipes and wood.
Recycling vs Upcycling
Recycling is a practice that takes an item and targets it for reuse, returning it back to the cycle of daily contribution to society rather than discarding it to trash
Upcycling is making something by reusing materials without downgrading quality or composition and making it of equal or better value