The Conscious Consumer’s Guide to Upcycling

Rebecca Bloomwood (our favourite shopaholic) confessed, “When I shop, the world gets better.” But while retail therapy feels good for the soul, what are the consequences of fast fashion on the world?

Since the 1980s, the fashion industry has been speeding up the turnaround on trends. One week it’s cropped tees, and the next it’s oversized graphic sweaters. We buy more clothing and wear them fewer times, causing more than 10.5 million tons of clothes to end up in landfills each year. But just by re-wearing clothes for an extra six to nine months, we can reduce the environmental impact by as much as 30%. The question then remains, how can we reuse clothing while staying up to date on the latest trends? The answer?  Upcycling.

Photo: Pixabay

Upcycling allows its creators to take run-of-the-mill, generic clothing and make them into unique pieces tailored to their body and tastes. Not only does it help save the environment, it also saves you money. And don’t worry if you’re not Vera Wang, you don’t need a designer eye to upcycle! Since 2017, Youtube has become a hub for upcycling resources. Vlogs that focus on sewing have become one of the most popular because, as Tilly Walnes said, “many of [the] patterns and workshops are designed with beginners in mind, so they demystify the jargon and show each step of the making process in a clear, down-to-earth way.”

For beginners, I recommend watching April Yang, known by her YouTube username “Coolirpa”. Based in Southern California, April started making upcycling videos in 2011 (a year after she learned how to sew!). She’s the perfect mix of trendy and conscious with all her creations being DIY and made from used clothing. Her most popular series, “Thrifted Transformations”, takes viewers through her process of changing old clothes from thrift shops into new pieces in line with fashion trends. It’s a great resource to draw on inspiration for reimagining clothes and a helpful sewing guide to perfecting the look. Don’t know how to sew? It’s a-okay, April’s got your back. Her series, “My Boyfriend Sews”, is not like your average “How-To” videos. By having a complete beginner learn how to sew, she creates a much more relatable and thorough lesson. April addresses common beginner’s mistakes and questions, and viewers are able to compare and check their work with someone at their skill level. Other good Youtubers to follow include Tilly Walnes (@TillyButtons), a UK seamstress with a focus on dressmaking, and Eryn (@StyleSewMe), a vlogger who focuses on everyday style with a ‘sprinkle of sexy’.

With as many events as there are in St. Andrews, and in a town with as many second hand shops as there are, one might as well tap into their inner Mary Kate Olsen and design a new wardrobe.  Although our town may only have three streets, they are full of wonderful fashion finds and endless discoveries in charity shops.  For students, this is the perfect way to stay within budget at university, as well as to learn how to upcycle and minimise the fads of fast fashion.  The only thing to do now is to keep your eyes peeled and minds open for some wonderful new pieces.  Happy Thrifting!

 

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