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Are you a recessionista, an upcycler, a vintage seeker, a recycler or reclaimer of fashion? The current economic atmosphere has led many artists, crafters and designers to cut corners and get creative by using reusing existing resources. This trend has it’s merits of course, but do you think it will last?

The picture above features some silk from the body of gorgeous work by Resurrection Rags and the amazing work of young designer Rachael Cassar.

Everyone seems to be “going green” these days, from Barney’s to bath tissue companies to banks. Some believe it to be a fleeting trend, while others see it as a global, permanent shift in consciousness. “Going green” is an extremely broad topic, so since we, at BurdaStyle, are people who sew, I thought it would be interesting to glimpse at some recycled and reclaimed fashion pieces, as they don’t always look that way…

Maison Martin Margiela, one of my favorite design houses, has been fond of reclamation since the 80s. “We first adopted this approach for our inaugural collection for Spring/Summer 1989 and it has been an integral and important element of each and every one of our collections since.”

Their approach, to me, is certainly more avant-garde and conceptual than the others. “This quest to transform garments is born from a wish to treat the strictures of the structure of a particular garment as a design challenge”. MM

Rei Kawakubo, of Comme des Garcon, has also been working with reclaimed garments and dry goods for years. In her Fall 2009 collection tailcoats were superimposed on larger greatcoats. Sections of khaki fatigues, and military tents & jackets, were collaged in. Ethnic blanket prints became involved, too.

Denim Dress, made from 41 pairs of Levi 501’s by innovative eco-conscious designer Gary Harvey.

Rachael Cassar, in my opinion, is one of those designers working with reclaimed materials who really does it well. Her clothing speaks of couture and high-end embellishing— it doesn’t look dull in the monotone way eco-friendly or recycled clothing can, it looks fine and exciting. Read a nice interview with Rachael here.

Sid Vintage Jewelry. One glance at these reclaimed ‘tangled’ creations will clue you in as to why designer Nanci Bennett has really ‘caught the eye’ of eco-fashion connoisseurs and style mavens everywhere.


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    Dec 21, 2010, 11.26 AMby ruthw

    I like Rei Kawakubo’s work very much – I am also a Miyake fan. Japanese designers know fabric so well. Margiel’s stuff is a bit ho-hum. Oh lots of beads and a bit of fabric. Wow! Straight from the kiddie’s dressing-up box. I don’t like Rachael’s work much either. According to this picture, she uses the shock-value of displaying young women’s naked breasts to get attention. It’s exploitative. You can be feminine without lookign desperate for attention.

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    Dec 21, 2010, 09.59 AMby belfin

    Although, upcycling can be more difficult than making a clean fresh garment out of a well cut pattern and some great fabric, the existing configuration of a garment can lead to some very unique lateral thinking. The result can be most profound! This is how I learned to sew. From 2nd hand clothes when I was studying Law at University, I freely explored Re-Creation. This appealed to my frugal farm-raised sensibilities and catered to my want to destroy and create – so necessary when you are young and full of new thought. Now the Law Career is gone and I am a full time fashion designer and pattern maker. Upcycling will never die. It will simply be called new things. Thanks to the above designers for showing us that upcycling is not just the playing ground of the newly sewing but also a craft of the Masters.

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    Dec 21, 2010, 09.14 AMby stuffit-1

    Thanks for posting this great article. It shows that reused or recycled stuff doesn’t have to look completely ugly….Indeed, it’s more than beautiful! And recycling is a money and waste saving way to be creative! ;))

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    Dec 21, 2010, 07.57 AMby littlemisssew

    I love Rachel’s creations. lace and beautiful and feminine. you’d never call it eco,it looks wonderful,and most of the eco things just look ragged or ridiculos.

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    Dec 21, 2010, 07.41 AMby barbarag

    Thanks for this wonderful post. Such beautiful clothes , probably more beautiful than the original garments.

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    Dec 21, 2010, 07.03 AMby NYAM Afia Cayee'

    This just gave me an idea of what to do with an old white formal dress ( similar to a wedding dress). Thanks for the inspiration!

    1 Reply
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      Dec 21, 2010, 08.28 PMby alisondahl

      Yes— it really got me inspired to take apart some delicate vintage garments and piece them together into something new!

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    Dec 21, 2010, 07.00 AMby NYAM Afia Cayee'

    WOW, the garments by RACHAEL are AMAZINGLY Beautiful. I love the look of the lace and the light airy look! Stunning!

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    Dec 21, 2010, 02.22 AMby fashionfreek

    I too agree..I think it will last. Wow I love that dress made out of jeans. :O) Also that top made from gloves…thanks for the idea, now I know what to do with them odd pairs of gloves I got when one goes missing every winter.

    I have got a few things myself to upcycle and too good of material to just throw away.

    1 Reply
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      Dec 21, 2010, 07.43 PMby kelepso

      The top made of gloves is really beautiful and unique.

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    Dec 21, 2010, 02.08 AMby elisabetsy

    Great post! I absolutely think it will last. I think people are becoming more conscious of what they throw away which ultimately trickles down to how to use things to their fullest means. To me, that inspires creativity as well as a sense of eco-consciousness. I hope we’ll see a lot more of projects like these!

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    Dec 21, 2010, 12.50 AMby melaniec

    Beautiful clothes! I love the dress from 501s. Everything goes in swings-and-roundabouts and once the economy perks up most people will want shiny new things. Those of us who have an afinity (or obsession!) for vintage and upcycling will always do it . I’ve been wearing 50’s clothes since the 80’s. I have a thing for spools of the industrial variety and grab them for tables when I see them being thrown out (they’re like flattened infinity symbols). Hopefully recycled/upcycled will remain in people’s vocabulary and practice – only time will tell! www.turnipsandtoile.blogspot.com

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