This post is sponsored by TonlĂ©, a truly sustainable zero waste fashion brand.Â
Fashion brands focused on upcycling pre-consumer textiles into new clothing are promoting a more circular economy.Â While it’s great that more brands are downcycling trash such as plastic bottles into new fibers, that process still has an environmental impact. Upcyclingâ€”transforming waste materials or unwanted products into desired goodsâ€”has little to no environmental impact.
Ideally, there shouldn’t be textile waste at all, but unfortunately,Â about a garbage truck’s worth ends up on landfill sites every second. That figure is expected to grow every year.
I’ve rounded up 9 upcycling fashion brands creating beautiful garments with textiles rescued from landfills, “trashion” that makes sustainability cool.
This post contains affiliate linksÂ and a gifted item
I’m very impressed byÂ TonlĂ©‘s zero waste efforts in every step of their production.Â InÂ Phnom Penh’s markets, the team sifts through leftover fabrics from large garment factors to choose the best textiles to work with. The larger pieces of fabric are made into new clothes. The smaller scraps left over from making them are cut and spun into yarn, which is then handwoven or knitted into news designs as wellâ€”watch the process here. Even the leftover fabric waste from yarn making is then mixed with used paper from TonlĂ©’s office to make their own handmade paper, which is then used to make more items such as these recycled paper cards.
They also have aÂ circular fashion resale program, Open Closet, where you can trade in your preloved TonlĂ© pieces for store credit. TonlĂ© works with anÂ ethical Cambodia factory of around 25 employees. Their workshop is set up like a sewing circle rather than an assembly line. Screen printing, cutting, fabric processing are all done in house. TonlĂ©’s online store is US based, and you can also find their clothing in retail stores in the US, Canada, and Australia.
Hong Kong-based brand Heritage ReFashionedÂ makes luxury handbags with upcycled vintage textiles from China, Japan, and South East Asia. TheirÂ mission is to turn forgotten textiles, such as Japanese Kimono silk, into something that we would treasure. Everything is hand made in Hong Kong, in limited quantities depending on the amount of fabric available. Each piece will have a story to tell; they come with cardsÂ explaining where the textile originates and what the pattern or symbol on it means.
Vincci, the founder and designer, reached out to me a while back to gift me a piece. I chose this Kimono silk kisslock clutch (right in the picture, and you can see more pics in this post). I can attest that the clutch is gorgeous in real life. I like that it comes with a detachable strap so it can be worn day or night. Definitely an item I’ll cherish and pass down.
In 2016, Daniel Silverstein said goodbye to working in fashion after learning firsthand how much fabric was being thrown out by traditional brands. He branched out on his own with Zero Waste Daniel. His collectionsÂ are made by his Brooklyn team, using fabric scraps from other designers that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Daniel’s ReRoll technique makes art of out literal garbage, and you can even request a custom mosaic. Similar to TonlĂ©, they have a Buy-Back Program, where you can trade in your old ZWD pieces for store credit.
For over 25 years, Preloved has been making clothes from vintage and deadstock materials in Toronto. Designing, manufacturing, shooting, and shipping are all done in house. Their mittens, made from upcycled wool sweaters, reminds me of the homemade ones Bernie Sanders woreÂ recently.Â Preloved clothing can be purchased online or in retail stores across Canada. If you have an old item, send it to Preloved and they can make it into a custom piece.
RE/DONE is an online luxury label that collaborates with Levi’s and Hanes for contemporary takes on classic wardrobe staples. Their Upcycled collectionÂ features limited edition pieces made with reconstructed vintage sweaters, sweatshirts, and denim. I especially like their one-of-a-kindÂ 90s Upcycled oversized CardigansÂ and 60s upcycled Western Shirts. Also check out their Marketplace for curated luxury vintage.
Urban Outfitters is not exactly known for being ethical, so their extensiveÂ vintage/upcycled collection is a refreshing surprise. This section looks expanded from the last time I checked it out, so there must be a lot of demand. They refresh vintage clothing with tie-dye or remake them into contemporary designs. I’m feeling the recycled flannel shorts.
Based in Austin, Texas, Psychic Outlaw‘s small team creates happy, handmade clothing using vintage and antique textiles. To get their signature quilt jacket, you can either supply your own quilt or buy one of theirs. Same for the bandana dress.
If you’re tired of wearing the same workout clothes as everyone else at the gym, JJ Vintage‘s recontructed activewear will surely turn heads. Each item is one of a kind, handmade usingÂ recycled scraps of knitwear and t-shirt fabric. This bustier top reminds me of something from a designer brand, and it’s very reasonably priced.
Girl of the Earth makes effortless upcycled womenswear and accessories with vintage fabric fromÂ 1930 to 1999. Each piece is made in limited runs (on average, three of a kind) in NYC, featuring a lot of ’60s and ’70s silhouettes.
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