Upcycled Clothing Brandss

10 Clothing Brands Upcycling or Using Recycled Materials

Sustainability continues to be an important conversation in the fashion industry. Today, the demand for upcycled clothing is fast rising among eco-conscious consumers. Clothing brands now recognize the detrimental effects of fast fashion and are adopting more ethical and sustainable ways of manufacturing clothes including refreshing clothing items for reuse.

In this article, we will look at what upcycled fashion is, the benefits of choosing upcycled clothing, and some of the best-upcycled clothing brands that are worth your investment. 

What is upcycled fashion?

Upcycled fashion involves turning old garments and textiles into new clothing or products of better quality and environmental value.  It is an innovative and creative way for fashion brands to reduce the negative environmental impact caused by the fashion industry. 

According to reports, the fast fashion industry produces 8-10% of global CO2 emissions. The industry also consumes 79 trillion liters of water every year and is responsible for 20% of industrial water pollution that comes from dyeing and textile treatments2. This environmental crisis comes from the ever-increasing demand for clothing. 

Read More: Fast Fashion Facts & Statistics

The practice of upcycling clothes paves the way for more sustainable and ethical fashion. It is beneficial to the planet and adds value to waste materials that would ordinarily end up in landfills. Furthermore, it saves natural resources, which in turn benefits the environment.

Upcycled clothing vs. recycled clothing - what’s the difference? 

You might be wondering - what’s the difference between upcycled clothing and recycled clothing? Well, both are sustainable ways of reducing fashion waste but note that both are not the same.

Upcycling clothes involves turning existing garments or products into something of a higher value. Some brands use different fabric scraps and upcycle them into new clothes for their fashion collection. 

On the other hand, recycling clothes & fabrics turn textile waste into something of similar value. For example, manufacturers can shred, bleach, and spin textile waste into new yarn. 

Both practices reduce waste and carbon emissions, save natural resources and create a more sustainable future.  The process of moving used clothing around the fashion industry through recycling, reselling, and upcycling is what fashion experts call the circular economy. 

Benefits of upcycling in the fashion industry 

Healthy environment

The production process of making some clothing involves harsh chemicals that are harmful to our health and also cause air and water pollution. With upcycling, manufacturers use existing materials, reducing the use of chemicals in processing raw materials. Also, it reduces the number of clothes that end up in landfills, creating a more eco-friendly environment.  

Saves natural resources 

Reports reveal that dyeing can take up to 150 liters of water per kilogram of fabric1. Upcycling reduces the natural resources needed for the production of new clothing. Fashion brands can use existing materials that solve the issue of water waste, deforestation, amongst others. 

Affordable clothing 

With upcycling, you can wear beautiful pieces of clothing at affordable prices while doing your bit for the planet. Thrift stores sell secondhand clothing you can use for upcycling at home or have a browse of some of the brands below that produce upcycled clothes ready to go.

10 best-upcycled clothing brands 

In this section, we have curated a list of some of the best-upcycled clothing brands that bring a creative combination of style and sustainability. Some of the below work with clothing items and give them a new lease of life, others use reclaimed or recycled fabrics and yarns. What they have in common is upcycling textiles to create amazing new peices to suit a range of styles. The following information will help you learn about these clothing brands:  

  • Who it is designed for 
  • Product range 
  • Ethical values
  • Clothing size range 
  • Store location and shipping options

Quick links to our picks of the best-upcycled clothing brands: 

1. Outerknown 

Outerknown upcycled clothing
Photo Credit: Outerknown

For: men and women
Product range: clothing
Ethical values: sustainable materials, supply chain transparency, Fair Trade USA certified, Fair Labour Association (FLA) Code of Conduct
Clothing size range: S-XXL 
Store location and shipping: Based in the US, with shipping worldwide 

Outerknown is a Bluesign certified clothing brand which means that this brand uses no harmful chemicals during its manufacturing process. They believe that sustainability begins with transparency and match their words with action by publishing a list of all their suppliers, which you can find on their website. 90% of the fibers Outerknown source are organic, recycled or regenerated.

Outerknown makes a wide range of sustainable clothing for both men and women, from jeans to T-shirts and stylish outdoor clothing. Founded by famous professional surfer Kelly Slater, they do a great line in clothes for the active lifestyle as you’d expect. They also have a variety of upcycled clothing you can choose from. These clothing items are made from different sustainable materials like upcycled cotton, recycled polyester, and other upcycled materials. They even go as far as making buttons using recycled polyester. 

Outerknown also shows its commitment to sustainability through its charity work of bringing awareness to ocean plastic pollution through various campaigns and donations. 

Shop Outerknown 

2. Re/Done 

re/done
Photo Credit: Re/Done

For: women
Product range: clothing and footwear
Ethical values: sustainable fashion, recycled fabrics, water-conserving methods, localized supply chain
Clothing size range: 23” – 32” waists
Store location and shipping: Based in the USA and ships internationally 

This vintage clothing brand specializes in upcycled denim clothing. Re/Done partners with Levi’s jeans to create unique pairs of sustainable jeans, denim jackets, and shorts in downtown Los Angeles. They mix and match old pairs of jeans to create new jeans. Their clothing is upcycled primarily by hand to preserve the original stitching and heritage of vintage denim. 

Re/Done uses ethical production practices and sustainable products in making their clothing. 

Shop Re/Done 

3. Zero Waste Daniel 

Zero waste daniel
Photo Credit: Zero Waste Daniel

For: any gender
Product range: clothing and accessories
Ethical values: Zero waste production policy, recycled materials, deadstock fabrics, closed-loop manufacturing system
Clothing size range: XS-XXL
Store location and shipping options: Based in the USA and ships worldwide 

Zero Waste Daniel is an upcycling clothing brand committed to sustainability and zero waste fashion. From organic hoodies to activewear, this fashion brand uses upcycled pieces of fabric to create sustainable clothing. Each piece of clothing made prevents textile waste from getting to the landfills. 

ZWD is genderless, supporting various body types and gender identities. They give new life to old clothes under fair trade conditions, right from their workshop in Brooklyn. 

Shop Zero Waste Daniel

4. Urban Outfitters 

For: men and women
Product range: clothing and accessories 
Ethical values: sustainable fabrics, recycled clothing, supply chain transparency, responsible sourcing
Clothing size range: XXS - XL
Store location and shipping options: Based in the USA and offers worldwide shipping 

Urban Outfitters offers vintage clothing for both men and women. Their Urban Renewal collection consists of upcycled clothes made of deadstock fabric /surplus fabric and authentic vintage clothing. 

They have in-store recycling, energy-efficient lighting, laundry machines, and a home office almost wholly made from recycled building materials. 

Urban Outfitters shows its commitment to sustainable fashion through various sustainability initiatives. They give back to their local community through donations and programs. 

Shop Urban Outfitters 

5. Beyond Retro

Beyond retro reworked
Photo Credit: Beyond Retro

For: men and women
Product range: clothing and accessories 
Ethical values: secondhand fabrics, zero-waste production policy, recycled materials
Clothing size range: 6-20 UK (women’s size), XS-XL (men’s size)
Store location and shipping options: Based in UK and Sweden and offers to ship internationally

If you are a vintage lover, then this clothing brand is just the perfect pick. Beyond Retro produces upcycled clothing under its reworked sub brand crafted from secondhand recycled items. This sustainable fashion brand has a raw material reserve consisting of fabrics waiting to be given new life.  

Their factories operate sustainably in India with maximum quality control and a no-waste production policy. Their stores recycle old clothes, cardboard boxes, and even price tags. 

Beyond Retro also shows its love for humanity through its Organ Donor Price Tag initiative. 

Shop Beyond Retro

6. Fanfare 

Fanfare upcylced clothing
Photo Credit: Fanfare

For: women
Product range: Clothing
Ethical values: recycled materials and packaging, GOTS certified materials, closed-loop manufacturing system
Clothing size range: 6-16 UK (tops), 26” - 34” waist (bottoms) 
Store location and shipping options: Based in the UK and ships worldwide 

Fanfare, formerly Fabric Freedom, was launched in 2018. This sustainable fashion brand creates upcycled bohemian clothing made from sustainable fabric pieces. They use embroideries from production waste and offcuts to create stunning pieces. Their upcycled collection is a mix of contemporary style yet subtle enough for a professional setting. They also offer one-of-a-kind vintage pieces available at their London pop-up stores. 

Fanfare has also teamed up with different organizations to fight modern-day slavery and plastic pollution. 

Shop Fanfare 

7. Picture Organic Clothing 

Picture organic clothing
Photo Credit: Picture

For: men, women, and kids
Product range: outdoor clothing and accessories 
Ethical values: Certified B Corp, Fair wear foundation certified, zero oil objective
Clothing size range: XS-XL 
Store location and shipping options: Based in France. Offers to ship only in France, Austria, Belgium, and Germany

If you are looking for upcycled clothing for the outdoors, Picture Organic has got you covered. Their collection includes activewear, snowboard outerwear, vests, swimwear, winter coats, and other recycled clothing for men, women, and kids. They make their clothing mostly from recycled materials, like their ski jackets which they make from recycled plastic bottles. They also run on around 20% renewable energy and plan to run on 100% by 2030. 

Shop Picture Organic Clothing 

8. Preloved 

Preloved
Photo Credit: Preloved

For: women
Product range: clothing and accessories
Ethical values: sustainable materials, eco-friendly 
Clothing size range: XS-XXL
Store location and shipping options: Based in Canada and ships worldwide 

Preloved is an upcycled and recycled clothing brand in Toronto, Canada. They make casual wear using deadstock materials. This brand also creates one-of-a-kind fashion pieces using upcycled vintage fabrics and secondhand garments. 

Preloved uses sustainable products, claiming to have diverted more than 1 million pieces of clothing away from landfills. 

Shop Preloved 

9. Antiform

Antiform upcycled fashion from reclaimed materials
Photo Credit: Antiform

For: women
Product range: clothes and accessories 
Ethical values: reclaimed materials, eco-friendly 
Clothing size range: 8-18 UK
Store location and shipping options: Based in the UK and offers to ship internationally.

Antiform is an innovative fashion brand pushing the frontiers of sustainable fashion through the use of reclaimed materials in making one-of-a-kind clothes and accessories. This brand focuses on knitwear and has a variety of unique designs you can choose from. All materials used in production are sourced locally in the UK. 

Shop Antiform 

10. RubyMoon

For: women
Product range: clothing (activewear and swimwear)
Ethical values: ECONYL (sourced from the ocean), OEKO-Tex 100 certified, 
Clothing size range: XS-XL, 38DD (sports bras)
Store location and shipping options: Based in the UK and offers shipping internationally  

RubyMoon is a non-profit upcycling brand that creates unique activewear pieces. Its swimwear is made from plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean. RubyMoon has contributed to solving the waste problem, claiming to have reduced carbon footprints by 42% They have done this by converting ocean plastic waste into garments. They are also dedicated to empowering female entrepreneurs around the world. 

Shop RubyMoon

Conclusion

Upcycled clothing is sustainable and just as fashionable and unique as fast fashion - if not more. We have listed some of the best-upcycled clothing brands that creatively combine style and sustainability. With the rise of the upcycling industry, we can now look good while protecting our ecosystem. 

1

Nikolina Šajn (2019 January) Environmental impact of the textile and clothing industry (pdf) European Parliamentary Research Service

2

Niinimäki, Kirsi & Peters, Greg & Dahlbo, Helena & Perry, Patsy & Rissanen, Timo & Gwilt, Alison. (2020). The environmental price of fast fashion. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. 1. 189-200. 10.1038/s43017-020-0039-9.

Jennifer is a content writer with an educational background in Public Relations and Advertising. From her desk in Lagos, Nigeria, she helps businesses around the world reach and connect with their audiences.
Photo by Camilla Carvalho on Unsplash
Featured in Sustainable Fashion
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