The only way is upcycling

March 01 2013
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Upcycling – the revamping of damaged or unwanted clothes, for those not in the know – is all the rage among eco-fashionistas.

The only way is upcycling

Upcycling – the revamping of damaged or unwanted clothes, for those not in the know – is all the rage among eco-fashionistas. Clothes are far too often disposed of because they are “so last season” or have given in to wear and tear. Ruth Strugnell

However, disposing of unwanted fabrics can have a detrimental effect on the environment. Synthetics don’t decompose and wool creates methane – one of the main contributors towards global warming.

Upcycling is about taking an interest in the life-cycle of your clothes by giving them a new lease of life. Simply putting needle to thread, you can create personalised pieces of apparel, increasing your clothes’ longevity. The final result: a wardrobe that is ethical as well as vibrant.

Ruth Strugnell, who works at the CLIC Sargent Shop on Gloucester Road, is always thinking of new ways to create interesting items of clothing in a sustainable way. After completing her degree in fashion at Bath Spa University almost three years ago, she moved to Bristol and started working at the local charity shop, which specialises in vintage fashion. Upcycling has been a passion of Ruth’s for the past five years.

“When I started working at CLIC Sargent, I was suddenly surrounded by all of these unwanted clothes,” exclaims Ruth, “and it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

“Upcycling is a great way to reinvent the clothes we’re donated at CLIC Sargent. By recycling fabrics that would have otherwise been discarded they are used to help raise money for a charity that supports children and young people affected by cancer.”

Having to work with what she’s been given not only keeps Ruth on her toes but she also finds it lots of fun and is able to be creative in her designs. She explains that in a world of fast-fashion and consumerism, getting people to upcycle is a step towards doing good for the environment.

Ruth explains there are a few quick and obvious techniques. “Studs are very fashionable at the moment – by using fabric glue you can jazz up any denim shirt or jumper. We also change pockets and collars by replacing them with a different fabric.”

The “Tenket” is Ruth’s favourite upcycled item – a raincoat made purely from recycled tents! “It takes a while to make,” says Ruth, “but I absolutely love it – a great festival number, I reckon.”

CLIC Sargent launched its new Upcycled range in August 2012, and has a boutique on the ASOS Marketplace website.

“Hopefully everyone loves our clothes as much as we do,” says Ruth.

Next time you’re considering chucking those retired items of clothing onto the rubbish heap, think about breathing new life into your wardrobe by upcycling instead – or taking them along to your local charity shop. It’s far more environmentally friendly - and leaves your purse feeling slightly heavier, too.