Upcycled Fashion Explores Designer Imagination


Fashion labels, like From Somewhere, are upcycling discarded textile materials to turn waste into beautiful, unique garments. 

Upcycling is defined as the act of turning waste materials into a desirable and usable quality objects. This method of manufacturing is right in line with the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, and engages the consumer in an understanding of how their responsible purchase has kept the landfill from growing a little bigger. In the world of fashion, garment designers are realizing the wealth of opportunities in the realm of upcycling and are doing a fine job of proving that style definitely doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the sake of sustainability.

Fashion has become a commodity in modern times, as fast fashion makes the latest runway trends available to almost anyone with a wallet within days of collection show on the catwalks. But with so much fashion constantly produced and consumed, huge waste piles of perfectly usable textiles are forming in landfills, alongside all the other negative effects of an exploitative and far too rapid fashion process. As a response to this destructive behavior, the designers and labels featured below are turning trash into treasures by utilizing waste from car interiors, discarded fabric rolls, used clothing, upholstery materials, and even swimsuits. Their philosophies for waste-reducing fashion processes are inspirational, and offer their supporters the benefits of local production and a fantastically colorful and unique wardrobe.


Piece x Piece

Defining itself as a “thoughtful disruption to the traditional path one usually takes in the apparel industry from fabric mill to land fill”, Piece x Piece creates one-of-a-kind garments from luxury fabric swatches. Their mission is to create beauty from waste, hopefully inspiring reconsideration of our relationship to waste. With a collection of beautiful and elegant, but slightly quirky patchwork style garments, Piece x Piece aims to provide seasonless, timeless clothes that allow us to “progress toward new philosophy about what waste really means and how we address it.”



Fashion-forward, sexy, block colors and body hugging silhouettes all define the collection of London based fashion label Goodone. The independent and eco-conscious label is “reinventing the potential of what upcycled garments can be” by utilizing reclaimed fabrics in almost all parts of the design process. The end result is a highly coveted collection of defined, feminine garments that are suitable for almost any occasion. With the mission of achieving positive change from within by visually blending with the mainstream fashion industry, Goodone ultimately aims “to give women the opportunity to feel good about their clothes and work with what already exists to achieve more.”


Platinum Dirt

Platinum Dirt is designer Dustin Page’s creative response to discarded leather materials generated by the automobile industry. He sources material from cars such as Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lincoln, BMW and Volvo to re-fashion it into quality leather gear. Platinum Dirt’s handcrafted VIN jackets incorporate the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate from the resource providing car, as well as hood ornaments and zipper pulls made from car logo emblems. The likes of luxurious silk brocade are used for lining and pockets, adding a polished touch to each of these, sleek and structured, one-of-a-kind jackets.



Based in Portland, OR, Looptworks is a consciously minded business that repurposes pre-consumer waste to create limited edition accessories and garments. “From concept to your closet, we can assure you that no new materials were used to create our clothing and that each item is as individual as the person who wears it,” says co-founder Gary Peck. Because the label depends on excess material from other manufacturers for the production of their items, Looptworks only makes up to 500 of any given style, hand-numbering each one to signify its uniqueness. Looptworks is putting forth a new manufacturing method for the fashion industry by cutting down on emissions, production costs, design time and resource use when compared to traditional fashion production. As Peck asserts, “we hope people start to think about what they buy, where it came from, and what natural resources it required to produce it.”

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From Somewhere

From Somewhere is one of the first fashion labels that turned upcycling into a real trend, and has been addressing the balance between consumption and disposal since 1997. Run by Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci, the label reuses luxury, designer textile waste to make gorgeous clothes that have been featured in upper-scale departments stores, the red carpet and several books on sustainable fashion. The label has even collaborated with Speedo, turning discarded swimsuits into amazing evening gowns and dresses, like the Unity Dress designed to sponsor Speedo’s athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. From Somewhere collections are a vibrant mix of colorful production off-cuts, damaged fabrics and end-of rolls that have been turned into exquisite, high quality garments. Make sure to stay posted for the new collection due out in April!

Images: From Somewhere, Gregoire Vandebussche, Goodone, Platinum Dirt, Looptworks