The fashion industry generates almost 25% of all municipal waste. Only a meager amount of ten percentage gets recycled. Rest all of it, promptly ends up in landfills. While population and purchasing power is on the rise, more fashion brands will push more. Here, upcycling becomes imperative to not just industry but the whole planet. Recycling breaks down the garment and helps it to enter the supply chain again. Upcycling meanwhile uses the disassembled garment to create a product that has a higher value than breaking it down to raw materials.
Fast fashion has cut down on production schedules making the entire supply chain produce more and more goods. But fast fashion alone cannot be blamed, even in slow fashion as the population rises the number of garments used and thrown will rise steadily. Here comes the role of both upcycling and recycling. Neither of them is a new concept. They were always used to create markets of second-hand thrift and vintage clothing by dealers.
Women tend to purchase more upcycled goods than men. However, there are several challenges to upcycling fashion. Since the supply chain is often broken and erratic in the post-consumer phase, it is difficult to collect them. Many regulations are not in favor of upcycling goods. The challenge of sorting them according to size, material, trims, and age also takes labor and effort. Coming with new designs to upcycle them remains a steady challenge.
To disincentivize manufacturers and waste collectors from throwing fashion goods into landfills, taxes have to be implemented. Cutting down on taxes of upcycling goods and setting up sorting and collection centers in collaboration with local governments are other ways to go.
Brands must get on board with the trend by creating a system throughout their chain to track where their product goes. Advanced tags permanently woven/knitted or printed invisibly to garments help to sort them quickly. This will help brands sell to customers without making them guilty of purchasing newer products. Upcycling needs to be treated for its commercial aspect than as textile art or innovation so it can be popularized.
Courtesy - Image courtesy: Maude Frédérique Lavoie