Many of us are interested in new, trending fashion, and there’s no shortage of it. Just head to any department store or mall and you will find enough clothing to cover everyone in your area a few times over. And that’s just for each season. After garments go stale at full price, you’ll find them on the sale rack and then what happens? A lot of clothing that doesn’t sell is shipped back to the manufacturer or sold to outlet malls or discount stores like TJ Maxx or Overstock.com. Some of it never goes this route. Instead, the products that don’t sell often get destroyed.
Why would a company choose to destroy unsold product versus selling it at half price or giving it to charity? Brand protection is your answer. Many high end brands do not want their items for sale at a discount because if it was the norm, their items would likely never sell at the high full price.
What does it truly mean to recycle clothing? One direction in recycling clothing is taking unwanted items to a local thrift store. Many of them are charities such as Goodwill, but many are also for profit such as Buffalo Exchange. Many cities and towns across the country have for profit thrift stores that are owned by local residents which therefore contributes to the local economy differently than a chain thrift store. In Taos, we have Rethreads which is owned by a local family and Community Against Violence Thrift Store which helps support our local efforts against domestic violence.
Another direction for recycling clothing is to cut up old, stained t-shirts for household rags. My partner uses them a lot for working on his cars and motorcycles. I also use them for wiping my dogs’ muddy feet.
I also like the instate the fourth “R” in the chain. Reduce, reuse, recycle and repair! Many items have a minor problem like a seam that comes open, a broken zipper or a missing button. With a little research on Youtube and a quick trip to the local fabric store or Amazon.com, you can easily repair many items that seemingly become useless otherwise.
At UpCycledFashion.com, we take it to another level. We completely deconstruct thrown out garments to create entirely new fashions. Trust me, there’s no shortage of desirable material out there. We’ve got people giving us velvet, wool, linen, silk, rayon, denim and much more on a regular basis. In fact, we all have storage areas in our workspaces just for all the incredible textiles that are donated! We give people in rural areas a chance to make a living with the valuable skill of sewing. We put people to work from home and are able to sell one-of-a-kind garments made from perfectly good recycled fabrics.
So the next time you consider buying a brand new, full price item at the store, think about where it was made and how many of the same item could be available at a local thrift store. Or perhaps you have something similar at home already that doesn’t fit quite right, but could be altered to the way you like. Do it yourself or employ a local seamstress. Help us make the world a better place one conscious decision at a time.