Be honest: this year, how many times have you reached for the ‘going out-out’ clothes in your wardrobe? Exactly. Thought so. There hasn’t been much call for extravagant clothes shopping in 2020, a year most of us have spent inside, in pyjamas. Despite some anomalies (Pretty Little Thing selling their products for just pennies on Black Friday, for example) fast- fashion has experienced a much-needed slowdown this year.
The appeal of ‘wear once, throw away’ dresses has waned now that Friday nights out are, by and large, off the cards. In the early months of the pandemic, retailers around the world shifted their manufacturing to focus on repurposing deadstock fabric: Sandro made masks out of material from previous collections, while Burberry made hospital gowns for the NHS. It should perhaps come as no surprise that, in the wake of the crisis, many designers are carrying this pivot forwards and creating entire upcycled collections.
Lacoste have recently unveiled their SS21 capsule collection, made using deadstock and vintage materials. The brand’s classic products have been reworked in a patchwork style to create whole new designs – polo shirts have become joggers, while nylon windbreakers have been reborn as tennis shorts.
PINKO, meanwhile, have teamed up with British designer Patrick McDowell to find fresh new ways to recycle the brand’s archive. Using discarded pieces from past collections, McDowell has created a capsule collection of jeans, sequinned blouses, blazers and jewelled capes. Each garment has taken between six and 12 hours to deconstruct and remake, with around 1,000 metres of fabric repurposed and saved.
At BITE Studios, founded in 2016 and now stocked by Selfridges and Net-A-Porter, sustainability has always been the focus: think organic wool blazers, cotton trenches and skirts made from recycled ocean waste plastic. They’ve decided to rework their PF20 and AW20 collections in SS21, which will sell until May next year, giving the designs the longevity they deserve and committing to a slower production pace. At BITE, 95% of the luxury materials used are organic, recycled or low impact. There’s even a buy-back scheme, where customers can sell clothes back to the brand for 20% of their original value, so they can be repurposed in new collections.
Meanwhile, British designer Bianca Saunders has partnered with Wrangler on her SS21 collection. Taking the iconic 111MWZ jean, the first jean ever made by Wrangler and the 124MJ jacket, created using Wrangler’s industry leading sustainable laser, ozone and nano bubble technologies, Saunders’ has created a six-piece capsule collection of upcycled denim pieces, from classic jeans, to jackets and shorts – all made using low-waste, eco-conscious techniques.
Also making waves in the sustainable denim field are ISKO Denim and Replay, who have joined forces on the introduction of Hyperflex Re-Used: a collection made from a mix of reused and recycled materials. Perhaps 2021 will see us return to our ‘going out-out’ wardrobe once more, but let’s hope the pandemic has had at least one positive outcome and changed our shopping habits forever. The next time you feel like clicking ‘Add to Basket’ on a cheaply made dress, think twice – and consider an upcycled option instead.