Hands at a sewing machine.

Upcycled fashion – revolutionising fashion

A guest blog from slow fashion specialists One Memoir, looking at how upcycling can reduce the environmental footprint of your clothes.

The fashion industry we know today makes it hard to find a truly unique piece which can express your own individual style and attitude. We have all had the experience of wandering along our high streets, seeing stores stacked with clothes but where one label seems to imitate the other and it all just becomes one big pile of lookalike fashion.

At the same time, we know that an estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK – and textile waste is a huge issue on a global scale.

The cheap quality of fast fashion, and constant change of fashion designs, creates a system that thrives on textile waste, with no real solution for curbing the appetites of fast fashion consumers. Fashion has now become a vicious cycle of hunting the next trend, which means our wardrobes are getting larger, while less individual, and leaving a heavy environmental mark on our planet.

Yet there are alternatives. The call for more sustainable fashion has been echoed in the recent Fashion Revolution movement, with consumers from around the world asking fashion houses to provide more transparency to their customers. There has been an overwhelming response from consumers, retailers and even celebrities.

Companies offering upcycled clothing are also on the rise. According to the dictionary, to upcycle means to “reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original”. In fashion terms, upcycling is a revolutionary concept: a process of reviving and redesigning the old into something new.

Models wearing upcycled jackets produced by One Memoir.

Why is this concept sustainable? Well, over 5% of the UK’s total annual carbon and water footprints result from clothing consumption, so buying upcycled clothes instead of new could make a huge environmental difference by reducing clothing waste.

One Memoir is a start-up sustainable fashion company that is taking this approach to tackling the global footprint of fashion. Based in Edinburgh, the company is created and run by two former graduates from the University of Edinburgh Business School, Justus and Shelly-Ann.

We decided to create a fashion brand established on sustainable business principles and both embraced the vision that upcycled fashion can be a sustainable alternative to wasteful fast fashion. Our slogan is “where creativity meets opportunity”, and a key aim is to provide opportunities for upcoming designers. We proudly support emerging designers with fair wages, allowing them to live their passion for fashion whilst reducing waste through upcycling.

We source textile waste from the UK and work with designers around the world, providing them with pre-loved women's jackets which they upcycle one piece at a time. Each jacket they produce has been handcrafted into something aesthetically unique, and each is a memoir – a collection of memories of a preloved item.

We believe that this approach creates a win-win situation: extending the life of clothes, creating opportunities for designers, and empowering consumers to buy fashion that is more sustainable.

Model wearing upcycled jacket produced by One Memoir.