RECYCLING - UPCYCLING
According to the Environmental Protection Agency there is an estimated 12.4 million tons of textiles that were generated in 2008 and it is estimated that the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing each year. Basically, there are a lot of textiles that are used each year. Recycled fashion means that in a small way we reduce the amount of waste associated with this culture of fast fashion.
Most of the clothing that is disposed of each year is still very wearable, but it is thrown out simply because it is out of style, old, or we are just tired of it; however, recycled fashion or upcycling means we use the perfectly good textiles and re-work them into up to date styles.
Liz's first collection was made entirely of recycled garments that were reworked into dresses. This collection was an experiment to see if making garments from recycled fabrics was possible. During this process, she realized the huge amount of second hand clothing that is available both here and in developing countries. In Ghana alone the second hand clothing industry is an 80 million dollar a year industry. This works out well for us, because we can go to a local market in Ghana or Honduras and purchase second hand t-shirts there to be re-made into something else.
Second Hand Clothing Market in Haiti
Ledy Cutting Pattern Pieces from T-Shirts in Honduras
When designing garments with recycled fabrics we choose fabrics or second hand clothes that we know we can buy A LOT of. For example second hand grey t-shirts or blue plaid shirts a very easy to buy anywhere. When we can purchase up to 100 of the same kind of garment, we are able to mass produce the style using upcycled fabrics. The t-shirts or button down shirts are then cleaned and cut again as if they were fabric (there is actually a whole lot of fabric in a t-shirt). This process does take extra time, cutting around holes and stains and choosing high quality fabrics; also, when designing a garment we have to think about making pattern pieces that are smaller and can fit on a t-shirt. But we love the extra details and think this longer process is worth it.
Another way to recycle fabrics is to use some of the excess from large factory production. It is a little known fact that there is tons of factory left over from production, so in places like Cambodia where there are a lot of factories we can go to the local market and purchase bags or rolls of fabric that has not been used. Above is a local market in Cambodia.