What Is Recycled Fashion?

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 months ago | Features

Image: the Scallop Oversized Bag, which is made from recycled paper.

It is National Recycling Week in Australia right now, which couldn’t have come a moment too soon. Because we have never needed to champion recycled fashion quite so desperately as we do now. In an age where fast fashion retailers like H&M and even luxury labels like Burberry are being accused of burning tonnes of perfectly wearable clothing, the term ‘recycled fashion’ is becoming even more important than ever before.

But what does recycled fashion actually mean? In short, it means different things to all different labels. But whichever way you look at it, re-using clothing items or fabric to make new products is far preferable than continuing to fuel a fast-paced fashion system, which thrives on constant newness. So here, we break down some of the different ways that our Well Made brands approach recycled fashion.

1) Pre-consumer recycled cotton bags

Image: the Giant Pocket Tote in Dark Denim, which is made from recycled pre-consumer cotton.

Pre-consumer recycled cotton represents a major opportunity in the modern fashion industry. It is made from manufacturer waste rather than consumer waste. Which means the scraps, rejects and trimmings that never make it into the customer’s hands have been given new life and repurposed into something useful, rather than being trashed. Baggu is one company that’s pioneering the use of this recycled fibre in their cotton bags and, in doing so, they are leading the way for more brands to follow suit. Because here’s the thing about pre-consumer recycled cotton: it can even be more environmentally responsible than organic cotton. According to Baggu founder Emily Sugihara, the brand’s mission is simple: “to make bags that fill many needs, are well-designed, are as affordable as possible and are produced in a way that’s mindful of the environment.” 

2) Recycled plastic swimwear

Image: the Asymmetric One Piece in Midnight, which is made from recycled nylon. 

Econyl is becoming increasingly popular as a material solution for sustainable swimwear brands like BaabyVege Threads and Good Studios. Econyl is a 100% regenerated nylon yarn, which comes from pre- and post-consumer nylon waste like fishing nets and fluff from old carpets. With so many microplastics currently clogging up the world’s waterways and harming marine ecosystems, our sustainable swimwear brands are turning to this innovative fibre as a way to help save the sea. "Water pollution is a huge global issue," says Vege Threads designer Amy Roberts. "So knowing that there are ways to regenerate waste is something I feel needs to be celebrated more and encouraged to be the norm."

3) Recycled paper beach bags

Image: the Scallop Oversized Bag, which is made from recycled paper.

Living by the beach and growing up in the Northern Rivers of NSW has made The Beach People sisters Emma Henderson and Victoria Beattie very conscious of protecting their natural surrounds. Which is why the sisters have chosen to use 100% recycled paper for their woven bags and remain so committed to keeping up with the latest innovations in sustainable fabrications. “I love meeting with our makers and seeing the new technologies that they have come up with,” Emma says. Because ultimately “[we are passionate about] turning materials that usually go to landfill into something new and versatile. When we saw the recycled paper material, we asked if we could turn that into bags and the rest is history.”

4) Recycled polyester backpacks

Image: the Re-Kanken Bag in Sunflower Yellow, which is made from eleven recycled plastic bottles. 

Single use plastics are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to environmental waste these days, so it seems pretty brilliant (if you ask us) to find ways of repurposing those single use plastics into wearable fashion items. Enter Fjallraven, which makes its cult classic Re-Kanken backpacks out of polyester recycled from eleven plastic bottles. Eleven. Already saving precious natural resources, these backpacks are also dyed using SpinDye technology, which radically reduces the amount of water, energy and chemicals used.

 

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