Denim patch.

Giving clothes new life

Guest blogger Hayley Robinson, Volunteer Designer with Fix Up Look Sharp, writes about seeing the potential in thrown-away clothes.

We here at Fix Up Look Sharp are, and always have been, keen recyclers of all household items great and small. I myself was brought up thinking that everyone used old pants and t-shirts as dusters and made yoghurt pots into hand puppets. I’m grateful for those insights as a child: learning to view throwaway items as a chance to make something new and give them a new life.

It’s this kind of ethos that started Fix Up three years ago. The brand grew from an idea Ruth had had before she even started working for CLIC Sargent. An idea born of the love of giving clothes new life – and also a need to buy clothes on a budget!

When Ruth was offered the position of Assistant Manager in the Gloucester Road store she brought her creative flair and upcycling ideas with her and so Fix Up Look Sharp was born.

Both Ruth and I come from families of creatives, from basket makers to costumiers, upholsterers to silversmiths. We each separately pursued degrees in Fashion Design, meeting in 2012 when I volunteered for the CLIC Sargent shop she works in.

Fix Up Look Sharp is all about giving fabrics and garments a longer life. We know we can’t change the demand for affordable fashion but we can offer a more sustainable option. The most dowdy of items can be reworked to become something beautiful: it’s all about removing the blinkers of disposable fashion and realising the potential to create something new and unique.

I feel very fortunate to be able to work the way we do. Donations come into our CLIC Sargent charity shops every day, and it’s so exciting every time we get something new sent from the shops – new to us anyway!

It feels like a real achievement to start with a bedsheet that someone has grown tired of and reinvent it into several garments for many more people to enjoy. Plus the fact that the end result of each sale is not just a happy customer but that through raising funds for CLIC Sargent it’s helping so many children and young people with cancer. It’s a very fulfilling project and one that’s growing and evolving every day.

One of our favourite garment donations are large, gathered or pleated skirts, often discarded as frumpy when someone doesn’t see the potential for all that amazing fabric. We’ve used several skirts in our latest collection, like this fruity number that’s now a sack dress and loose crop or this other beautiful geometric black and red number. We see the fabric first and then the garment – just before we begin the unpicking process.

Crop top in fruity fabric.

Blouse with geometric print.

Young models wearing clothes from FULS.

The moral to our Fix Up story is this: if you hear yourself say “I love the fabric but I’d never wear that shape”, stop, rethink and see the potential. Want to try out upcycling for yourself? Try this step-by-step half and half shirt tutorial – a simple way to transform two shirts into something new and exciting.

What other fashion wonders lie ahead for you?

Fix Up Look Sharp is an upcycling clothing brand transforming donations given to CLIC Sargent charity shops into unique fashion pieces. All proceeds from sales going towards funding CLIC Sargent’s vital work. You can follow them on Twitter  and Instagram.