Upcycling: The new hip trend. Is it worth it?

Feb 17, 2018

Upcycling: The new hip trend. Is it worth it?
Upcycling: The new hip trend. Is it worth it? | Credit: Lum3n

Haven’t we all, at some point or the other, opened our wardrobes and sighed, saying we have nothing to wear! Most outfits lay unused because they are either too tight or outdated or have slight damage due to wear and tear. Typically one disposes of these by donating it or throwing it away. However, due to increasing awareness (and maybe even financial constraints!) people have started reusing these materials in different ways. An awareness of the environment and being conscious about lifestyle choices has also precipitated this change in mindset, which has resulted in avoiding a lot of wastage.

This process of reusing materials to give it a different look and utility purpose is called upcycling.

Why Upcycling?

Upcycling is not only pocket friendly but it will give a person free reign to his or her creativity to create a unique product made completely out of old stuff. Sometimes, the upcycled item can be even better than the original. One main advantage of upcycling is that it hampers one’s desire for more materialistic possessions. It also reuses materials that may otherwise end up in the landfill, in creative and innovative ways. We can produce original, often one-of-a-kind items from what many consider to be waste. 

Fashion Designers and clothes manufacturers have understood the importance of efficiently reusing leftover materials such as upholstery scraps or vintage textiles and redesigned it in such a way that it gives new life to worn-out jeans and tattered T-shirts. The world of upcycling has exploded in the past few years, and this trend only seems to be getting more and more popular.

There are inspired individuals and companies who recognize the business opportunity that lies in combining nostalgia and sentiments to create memorable objects from old clothes.

Who can Upcycle?

Upcycling is not just limited to only professional designers in particular. Anyone can do it. As someone rightly said, “Creativity is making marvels out of the discarded.”

Indian households have over the ages seen a lot of creatively inclined women who have upcycled their sarees into anarkalis. Some have added borders to them and made them into beautiful dupattas, some have made kurtas, palazzos, ethnic jackets or sometimes have made it trendy with Indo-Western wear like wraparound skirts, etc.

On the other hand you can take it one step further by cutting up old drapes or sarees to beautify your house. You can make lovely cushion covers, embroidered cloth bags or wall hangings or tapestries even. One can mix and match the fabrics with various other materials and keep changing them every season to create a new look. Sky's the limit if one wants to unleash their imagination in utilizing old fabrics in ingenious ways.

Even children are being taught the importance of upcycling and usefully repurposing old things. They can even make various arts and crafts, which will help them explore their creativity. At a young age, they become mindful of the fact that not everything is meant to be used and then thrown away. They learn multiple ways to utilize a product to extend its longevity and apply the principles in all spheres.

We need to be more aware of the wastage being created by the fashion industry and find useful ways to reutilize these products. A lot of NGOs have also become involved in this and have converted upcycling into a useful skill for low-income individuals by training them and providing them with the basic tools to create small utility products out of scraps.

This results in a win-win situation for all wherein these low skilled workers earn additional income and the customer has a unique, fashionable, hand made upcycled product.

Upcycling seems to be the way forward and this trend has certainly caught on with the masses!