SUSTAINABLE FASHION (Upcycled, Recycled & Vintage)

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Clothing now has almost become a disposable item, I do know people who buy a cheaper alternative for just one wear, maybe a night on the town, or a special event.

There are shops on the high street where the cost of a piece of clothing is so cheap, I am not sure people appreciate the item anymore, it is like buying a toothbrush! It ends up in the bin after a couple of uses.

Why not consider another option, to upcycle or re-purpose

( or refashion ) an outfit and re-cycle when there is no other option.

Of course there is Apps on the market such as Vinted, Poshmark

TEEN VOGUE have a list of 15 Apps to sell clothing online– listed below from link – much more information on what each of these sites do.

Some of these are in more detail below. ASOS Marketplace , Etsy, eBay , Poshmark, The RealReal , Refashioner , ThredUP,  LePrix, Crossroads Trading,  Tradesy, Mosh Posh ( sorry I cant get a link to this one as yet), Mercari, Rebag ,Facebook Market Place( sorry this will only allow my link to come up)

I am sure that we have used some of these before, perhaps not to access clothing. eBay seems to have been with us forever, I often use Facebook Market Place to look for old furniture or items, I find that it is great to see things in your own area. This site has saved me a fortune!

In France we have another type of eBay called Le Bon Coin this is very similar for anything from clothing to a house!

In this blog there are links to companies who will repair or alter your favorite jeans, companies who sell jeans without the chemical colors ( Synthetic) that pollute the environment, natural color jeans and eco and sustainable fashion brands.

This is a look into what we can all do with our buying power, but still buy great clothes and have some fun.

ELLE – 47 Sustainable Clothing Brands That Are Anything But Boring

I love this thought, of all the Upcycled, Recycled, Vintage and sustainable brands, they certainly are not boring. There is a wealth of creativity within this industry.

CLOSE THE LOOP– Have a great guide to how long it takes for a piece of clothing to break down in the landfill.

The difference between a synthetic fabric like nylon or polyester, and spandex which can be found in so many clothing items including jeans. These can take between 20-200 years to degrade. Or a natural fabric like cotton( a week- 5 months), linen( 2 weeks),natural hemp is also highly bio-degradable .

One answer ,could be as simple as choosing what your clothing is made from to make a difference. There is more information on the production of colors below and some companies really making a difference in how we color our fabrics.

I guess the most expensive dress I have ever bought for one wear, was my wedding dress!

The thing I hadn’t given much thought to, was all the fabric cut offs ( 15% are lost to this) from fashion companies, and where it all ends up . Which unfortunately is the landfill. Fashion Revolution discuss the “92 tons of textile waste“, which is either landfilled or burnt! “textile waste is estimated to increase by about 60% between 2015 and 2030”

This isn’t sustainable. I was reading about the erosion of top soil, how fast that is progressing, if we are constantly chucking stuff into landfill, how much land will be lost to waste. BBC – SOIL EROSION and “Why Fertile Earth is Being Degraded And Lost

VOGUE BUSINESS “How quickly do fashion materials biodegrade?”

There is much more interest in the fashion industry on the sustainability of fabrics.

They also have a guide to how long it takes for certain fabrics to degrade, with information on new fabrics like Tencel ( an alternative to elastane) to take the place of synthetics which take many years to degrade.

Though there are certain fabrics like polymers, like rayon, which are an exception. They explain the qualities of wool which although degradable( can take around 6 months in landfill) they write about a  3,000 yr old woolen clothing found in the desert in Israel, wow. Though we have all seen fabrics that have been found hundreds of years later by archeologist.

COSMOPOLITAN.COM “What is “Sustainable Fashion”? Sustainable fashion Definition. They explain the terms, Eco-friendly, Ethical, Fair trade, Organic, Re-cycled, Sustainable, Upcycled and Vegan.

They also give a list of clothing brands that cover each of these terms.

It is only when you see these terms, you realize just how complicated it is. Any number of these terms can be written on your clothing, making you make choices that mean something to you. I am sure we would all want to buy clothing that had most of these values attached to them.

A very interesting article on the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC which goes into the way PRADA is trying to make a difference now. They “signed up to a “Fashion Pact” committing to achieving net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.” “Scrap nylon like this typically ends up in landfill, where it can remain for decades, slowly releasing methane – a potent greenhouse gas”. ( info on link)

Reading the website they have a fantastic article on “Where to Buy Used Designer Bags, from Louis Vuitton To Chanel” .

I think this is a fantastic idea, who doesn’t want a bit of fashion and make a difference too!

I have seen changes in some of the stores, where they are offering outfits or items that have been made from recycled clothing or items. That makes a lot of sense to me. Clothing store like H&M and C&A now are doing sustainable fashion.

You can also get recycled clothing via  Amazon.

THE GOOD TRADE.COM have information on 13 different recycled brands. These companies are based in the UK and also USA. People such as PACT, THOUGHT CLOTHING and OUTERKNOWN who also do a repair program.

MONEY CRASHERS.COM also have a list of 18 sustainable or ethical brands.

 Patagonia– Ethical fashion since 1973 , they use recycled plastic bottles to make their clothing. (from Link -)“What’s Cool About Used?

Buying used extends a garment’s life by about two years, which cuts its combined carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%.”

Beyond Retro -a vintage retailer across the UK and Sweden and on-line. Their vision – “OUR DREAM IS TO RECLAIM, REDUCE AND REUSE 10 BILLION ITEMS.

RUBY MOON -“ Super soft, sustainable stretch fabric, vegan, durable” Swimsuits and exercise wear, found in Brighton UK, Barcelona and Berlin. Founder Jo-Anne Godden who spent 25 years working in the unsustainable Fashion Industry. Now Jo makes a difference.

Zero Waste Daniel – ( from Link) “His story and brand went viral in 2017 with more than 35 million views worldwide “ Living zero waste. Great ethics and brightly colored patchwork designs . USA.

RE/DONE – Jeans & footwear. Levi’s , up-cycled ( from Link) “Vintage Levi’s denim carries, within its stitching, stories of years of wear – a history of a past life. Its travels have been recorded in the frayed pockets, the whiskered coloring, the torn knees, and the faded denim. These pre-loved jeans have circulated owners and changed hands over the past few decades, transforming them and giving them a life of their own. Like a fine wine, the Levi’s denim only gets better with age.”

ASOS – Reclaimed Vintage range. I wasn’t aware this brand was doing reclaimed fashion as well.

ANTIFORM -( From link)”ethical, sustainable design by using reclaimed materials and mixing fashion forward shapes with heritage craft.” UK based .

ROOP -Started byNatasha “Roop” Fernandes Anjo- vintage and handmade. “Natasha handmakes all handbags and accessories using quality, and luxury fabrics” Bags, scrunchies and masks. Sustainable and green fashion, including the packaging. Really unusual bags in beautiful colors.

BIRDSONG– Ethical sustainable fashion “made by talented women paid a fair wage”

LES FLEURS-“. At Les Fleurs Studio, all designers work solely with pre-existing materials, vowing against contributing to the growing problem of waste, whether that be reconcepting vintage tailoring salvaged from landfill, using deadstock material from luxury brands, or curating edits of archive and vintage. We don’t produce. We reuse.”

WHERE TO FIND AN ANTIQUE, PRE- LOVED WEDDING DRESS ( Some new designer , or made from old fabrics ) Totally beautiful designs.

Even your wedding dress can be vintage, this to me makes perfect sense, it is only worn for one day, unless you are doing your own recycling and passing it through your family, which is a lovely idea. How lovely if something had been passed down from the 3o’s or even older!

Indie Bride-Sustainable dresses, long, short and accessories based in London

Rent the Runaway– has wedding dresses, guest outfits, even maternity wear to rent. Clothing for women and men.

Borrowing Magnolia – this company has dresses ranging in all sizes including plus size. ” new, gently used, and sample wedding gowns  from size 00 – 20.”

Christy Dawn – a real mixture of clothing and shoes. including bridal made from deadstock and vintage fabrics.

Leanne Marshall– Handmade & Sustainable.

Wear Your Love. Giving the story behind the dress, the fabrics . Just some beautiful dresses.

The Cotton Bride– Natural Fabrics ”  100% natural fabrics including cotton, linen and silk”.

Once Wed- Used wedding dresses. Sample and even new designer dresses for less!

 LEILA HAFZI – sustainable wedding dresses – romantic, feminine and bohemian .

I prefer that these brands are aware of how the clothing gets made, what chemicals they are using to color fabrics. Some are costly, but perhaps we need to look at just what we are buying ,and keep the clothing longer than the throw away culture.

Something I read last year concerning coats no longer wanted being left on trees, so that a homeless person could keep warm in the cold months, fab idea, and a great way to upcycle.


Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

We all want to wear beautiful fabrics and colors.

Dyes can be Natural ( plants and minerals) and blended with starches and seaweed to make them stick. Dye can be Synthetic usually made from coal tar and petroleum ( as in jeans , info below) and could be Solvents, acids, Sulphur and other mixtures. Dyes come from many different types of chemicals as not all dyes will work with different materials.

There is a shocking article in CEN.ACS.ORG on the amount of chemicals that had been allowed in the waterways.

Places like China, India, and Bangladesh. I am sure you have seen the photos in the media of brightly colored rivers of dye, flowing through living areas.

This is a $3 trillion dollar a yr business, then the amount of jobs linked to this industry is around 60 million . Quite staggering figures.

Governments are now trying to tackle the problem , and certain countries shut down the production to allow inspections to go ahead. As they mention, there is a reluctance in companies to pay even 1p more per item to suppliers.

I can’t see how this is sustainable to our environment. They talk about the need to find better method of dyeing fabrics, one of these is Digital printing, which takes less water. “All told, about 200 L of water is used to produce 1 kg of fabric” ( from link) They also give a comprehensive list of dyeing terms.


This was one area that I hadn’t really given a thought . I was reading on the BBC about the Levis Brothers and the one piece of clothing that most people own, whether you are an adult or a child. We had some really lovely baby pinafore slips for our daughter in denim when she was really small.

Apparently this color was originally made from plants, I guess at that time in 1873 there wasn’t much processed. Though according to the report it didn’t take them long to start making these color artificially , using loads of Petroleum and toxic chemicals such as Hydrogen Cyanide and Formaldehyde.

What is fantastic news, is that there are some companies who now think that they are able to make colours in a totally different way, which will not harm our environment.

WIRED- Your Beloved Jeans Are Polluting The Ocean -Big Time Another article explaining the problem with jeans that we all love. In this case it is due to the micro fibers that come from jeans.

TINCTORIUM Is one company who are now making Indigo Blue from ” mirror a natural plant process within microbes to produce colors using completely renewable sources.”( taken from the Link)

PILI This company is growing a new colours , again using Micro-Organisms to break down plant based matter. Then to reshape them into dyes. They have a video on this link to show just what they do.

COLOURIFIX Is another company taking this forward. After finding about all the problems in places like India and the waste from these companies pumping into their waterways. They are looking into the way DNA work in animals and birds for their color. They have found ways to dye Polycotton , using much less resources.

The amount of waste products pollution our natural resources such as water is not sustainable. People in countries such as India are left with the waste problem for the years to come. The wear once culture with some of the very cheap clothing stores are having a huge effect on peoples lives.


CONSCIOUS FASHION Have a list of 15 different companies making a difference, also how expensive they are to purchase.

MUDJEANS also have recycled jeans and undyed cotton. They also have organic cottons without the toxic chemicals that can come from jeans. You can even lease your jeans!

E.L.V DENIM A zero waste denim brand . These come from vintage unwanted jeans.

GANNI LEVI’s– Their ideas on responsibility Their use of responsible materials.


DENIM REPAIR Have a service of repairing your jeans, to help you hold onto that favourite pair!

DENIM THERAPY based in NY also have a repair service or alterations.


Just yesterday , I saw an image of a pair of stretch jeans on Facebook by a site called WASTED-ED, that had been composted for a year to see what was left. It was shocking to be honest, the amount of plastic left once the cotton had broken down. You can definitely see the shape of the jeans, I never realized just how much plastic was incorporated in the stretch component.

Finally, what have I learnt from reading all this information? We all want to look great, it builds our confidence, I know looking good makes me smile.

It really has made me think about where are clothes come from, not just through the sustainability but ethically sourced materials and the wages paid to the workers. Respect for the environment , and of people living in these countries.

Going forward for myself, it has made me aware of the fabrics that I am choosing, looking at vintage clothes and shops in a different way. It can still be fun finding something repurposed.