up·cy·cle (/ˈəpˌsīkəl/), verb
  1. reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.

However, upcycling is so much more than its formal definition describe it as. As The Front Lash puts it:

Upcycled fashion is the real life equivalent of spinning straw into gold. 

Designers transform discarded materials like fabric, trimmings, and hardware into beautiful, one-of-a-kind garments or accessories. This method of design is responsive to existing materials, shaping what exists into what could be…. Upcycled pieces are covetable because not only are they one-of-a kind, exclusive pieces, the inherent ideology of the design eschews virgin materials and keeps refuse out of landfill.”

I love this take on upcycling as it truly pays homage to the impactful craft, creativity, and conservation that it is. Each individual may have a different take on the definition or purpose of Upcycling, but for me, Upcycling is…

Thinking for Yourself

Upcycled clothing brings back the idea of personal style, uniqueness, individuality, and self-expression. Not only does it outfit the consumers the way they want to be, but it allows designers to create the clothes they want to.  The massive shift towards fast fashion is eliminating personal style.  Nearly all clothes available to us trickle down from fashion industry trends, so no matter your opinion on fashion, the clothes you own conform to a trend. 


Since upcycling designers and consumers are making and buying clothes they want to wear they are more likely to hold on to it for longer.  Instead of making and buying trendy clothes then discarding them as soon as the trend disappears, upcycled clothing follows personal taste thus, outlasting trends and staying out of landfills longer.

An Equalizer

Upcycled clothing doesn’t perpetuate the stereotypes that fast fashion labels can place on us. The products’ individuality, varied sources, and unique finished products dismantle the hierarchy of fashion industry branding. Personal style is seen before classification.

Wearable Art & Brilliance

As a result of fast fashion’s production techniques, consumers are rarely exposed to the art and brilliance that goes into designing clothes.  A main component of fast fashion is replicating runway trends in a cheap and easy way.  Thus, the latter excludes a majority of the craft that goes into producing clothes. Upcycling relies on that craft, reinvigorating designers and consumers alike.