Part of the charm of vintage fabrics is often the story behind them: a sundress from old curtains, the upcycling of a prom dress. Repurposing a piece of cloth can be a fascinating process.
And this isn’t entirely new. During the Great Depression, people wore the feed sacks that came with their flour and rice purchases. Lately, some brands are reviving this. Market waste becomes redesigned into fashionable items. Mostly seen in casual wear, these clothes offer comfortable wide silhouettes, with light, soft and breathable textiles, like loose cotton. Below are some of our favorite brands working in this way.
When I discovered this brand, I fell completely in love. No word could describe its “cuteniqueness” so I had to invent it. Since their production comes from thoughtfully curated vintage textiles, every item is an original piece. Their IG stories record visits to trade fairs where they stock up on a variety of items, from feed sacks to old tablecloths. A reconstruction method implemented during pattern-making allows for a mix of fabric offcuts.
Beyond their sustainable creative process, the fabrication is locally and ethically made by a small team of women. They work and serve the community, always looking for new collaborations: “A threefold cord is not easily broken”. In addition to this, they encourage customers to take part in the design process by choosing their own fabric from the 3 Women’s collection. Follow them on Instagram for more.
A Zero-Waste initiative coming right from the heart of the Philippines. Jude Rivera is the face behind AraPilak, a fashion designer that has revived a traditional Filipino practice called Katsa. Katsa is originally the sackcloths where the flour and cornstarch are packed. For her production, Jude collects Katsa from local bakeries in Palawa. From wrap dresses to button-downs, this brand offers gender-neutral and sustainable chic designs for warm temperatures.
Her objective is to reduce the environmental impact by honoring her roots and upcycling used materials. AraPilak means “no waste”, accounting for an eco-friendly mindset by giving life to carbon-neutral products. Furthermore, she provides livelihoods for single mothers in order to inspire resiliency and resourcefulness among women.
Men’s clothing made from women’s history. In contrast to the other businesses, Bode is a luxury menswear brand that produces one-of-a-kind handcrafted clothing. Is characterized for bringing back historic techniques and modernizing the past in their designs. This NY tailor-made store doesn’t source from bakeries at all. They use antique fabrics, Victorian quilts, grain sacks, and bed linens. They exploit these rich textiles into making great storytelling for their creative image.
Emily Bode was the first female designer to show Men’s at the NYFW, making collections almost entirely from vintage textiles. As an LVMH Prize finalist and a Woolmark Prize Winner (in the Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation), Emily is paving the way for women entrepreneurs in the menswear industry. Follow Bode’s IG account.
Crafty and sustainable pieces. Roldan Hazel, the owner of this sustainable brand, is turning upcycling fashionable. Native from the Philippines, she encourages people to do a zero-waste and low-impact lifestyle.
& Again turns fabric waste into useful items to use AGAIN. This undertaking works with limited stock since she sources flour sacks from different bakeries in town. But in consequence, Roldan provides once-in-a-lifetime wardrobe staples. These lightweight and comfy polos and kimonos are not only genderless but for all ages! You can find her products in KatHa, a sustainable lifestyle store from Malaysia. Follow her IG account.
Another LVMH Prize finalist: Bethany Williams is a designer striving for environmental and social change through fashion. Boosting an alternative system for fashion production, she partnered in 2016 with Tesco and FoodBank to highlight the “hidden hunger” crisis in the UK. “Breadline” is a completely recycled collection. Building on waste materials, recycled cardboard and “Tesco everyday value” branded organic prints, she offers an alternative system for fashion production. Communities and charities came together to develop traditional hand-crafted woven, printed, knitted and embroidered materials. Even the buttons were handcrafted! For more designs, check Bethany’s IG.
Maximum style; minimal carbon footprint. Selina Sanders promotes environmental conservation. With a strong Cottagecore aesthetic, she offers bold prints and fabulous puff sleeves that embody a playful and colorful style. Every top and accessories are hand-made from vintage materials. Choosing Selina’s is acknowledging and embracing the history of each garment which are 70-100 years old. We think this a fabulous way to reflect on a good fabric’s longevity – reminding us that care and consideration of a piece allows it an unexpectedly long life.
But for Selina, environmental justice must be connected to racial equality and socio-economic justice. She notes that one can’t claim to be sustainable otherwise. From every purchase made, you’re not just supporting their ethical creative work, but making possible their fundraising efforts, since a percentage of the profits are donated to different organizations. Check her beautiful designs on Instagram.
Philippines-based designer, Lyca Faustino, is the founder of Project, an ethical brand that works through upcycling. Every garment is made from vintage or waste fabrics, capturing the rich flow of second-hand clothing from her hometown. The go-to store of models and influencers: her marketing strategy is behind TikTok fashion trends. Lyca’s creative process is based on a reconstruction method, designing upcycled pieces made from sustainable materials. Not only does she design, but occasionally models her products on IG. With a trendy and upbeat style, she achieves re-worked bikinis, corsets and even pants from patchwork or Katsa fabric. Check her account.
“9% Upcycled goods, handcrafted for the love of nature”. That’s the slogan for Craftcha, a small Philippine business that converts upcycling discarded items into useful household goods and everyday items. Based on craftsmanship and Katsa, Craftcha bets on the talent of Filipino artisans. The Pasig-based brand has been recognized for its creativity and tenacity. Founder Merlita Manacad (A Typhoon Ondoy survivor) felt inspired to advocate cloth waste management by minimizing the use of plastics items. She hopes to encourage people to value the importance of sustainable living and promoting zero waste.
Centered in functionality and resourcefulness, Craftcha takes pride in its environmentally friendly and purposeful products. Beautiful and conscious designs made from flour sacks, cloths scraps, old jeans and outdated clothing. They offer a vast variety of products: tote bags, pants, dresses and even re-usable masks! Follow them on Instagram.