If you’ve been following along with Reborn Clothing Co.’s story, you’ve probably heard the term “upcycling” thrown around. Truly—we can’t go a day at the office without hearing it a hundred times. And that’s because upcycling—or taking materials and products that already exist and transforming them into something totally new to be used all over again—is just the way we like to do things around here.
Traditional clothing manufacturers discard about 20 to 30 percent of the total fabric used during the design and cutting process. Hey, it happens, but that means it’s up to us to find a way to turn that waste into something valuable. Discarded scraps, along with other deadstock fabric, can be upcycled. That’s where we come in. At Reborn, we take deadstock and unwanted garments to create new products for brands and individuals alike to love all over again. We aren’t alone in the upcycling journey, check out this trend of upcycling thrifted garments into trendy new pieces that you can make at home.
Unlike recycling, upcycling only requires existing garments as they already are and gives them a new purpose without stripping the textile down to the fiber or draining vast amounts of resources to do so.
What’s recycling really about?
Did you know that ninety-five percent of garments can be recycled? The recycling process is more intensive than you might think. There are essentially two processes to recycle fabric for reuse.
Chemical garment-to-garment recycling uses a chemical solvent to break down the existing garment into virgin-quality fabrics that can then go back into the textile production cycle. Mechanical recycling breaks down fibers through a shredding process. This of course makes the fiber lose its quality, so it must be mixed with virgin fibers. This form of recycling is typically the go-to, because it doesn’t use as many chemicals or detergents and is cheaper overall. After fibers come from recycling plants, they’re made into a textile, and then a garment for consumers. Mechanically recycled fibers typically make for low-grade textiles that wear out quickly and end up in the landfill again after a short period.
At surface level, recycling seems like a great way to fix the textile waste problem, but in actuality it’s just a step away from throwing garments into the bin once they’re off-trend. You can think of the recycling process as a pitstop for a garment before it winds up in a landfill.
A force for good
Upcycling is the cleanest way to give garments new life sans chemicals and shredding. A lot of upcycling is small-scale, like at-home DIYs or projects by small Etsy shops. But, with an increase in consumers’ desire for sustainable products, upcycling has the potential to become a large scale production so that repurposed pieces can be easily obtained by the masses online, and in boutiques and even campus stores! Upcycling on a larger scale allows companies to take a social approach to marketing, enabling green initiatives worldwide.
Whether you’re wanting to revamp some pieces in your own closet or even add some new accessories to your summer lookbook, upcycling is a great way to spice things up. Not only are upcycled pieces truly sustainable, they’re entirely unique to you! If you have old garments of your that you’d like to repurpose, check out our Upcycle Collection—we take care of the hard work so you don’t have to.
We’d love to follow along with you on your next upcycling journey, so give us a follow and a tag as you create your new favorite summer staple. Together, we can weave a new story from old garments and keep them out of our landfills.