The Art Of Up-Cycling


Claudia Rosales, Staff Writer

As students enter the second month of the school year, many continue to buy new clothing for the upcoming fall season; however, how many articles of clothing are they wasting in the process? 

The world of fashion is always moving at a fast pace. A sub genre of the apparel industry has been the topic of plenty of concerns recently: fast fashion. Shoppers will buy up to 10 pieces of clothing for a tragically low price due to how cheaply manufactured it is, which leads to overconsumption. After only a season of wearing these garments, they’ll be thrown away to make more room for newer trends, contributing to the ongoing waste on the planet. Instead of discarding clothing, a greater response would be to repurpose their wardrobe as a whole by upcycling.

Upcycling clothes is the process of repurposing old or worn clothes and making them into something new. Ruqaya Gataa, a junior at Elkhart High, has her own interpretation on repurposing clothing: “I strongly feel that upcycling is a good way to give something a new life instead of completely abandoning it and leaving it useless.” She goes on to explain that just about anything can go through this process as long as a vision and plan is upheld. “You can always use different mediums to make something beautiful and your own; it’s all just very dependent on your own subconscious mind and thought process throughout the journey.” 

There’s a variety of different ways to go about repurposing clothes. Examples include using dye, patching, embroidering, or even using it as a cleaning rag. Garments can also be turned into quilts, totes, or scrunchies. Motivation to complete an original piece can come from anywhere, whether that be taking inspiration from different decades or clothing lines. It can be as simple as painting a picture of a favorite character on a worn shirt, pants, shoes, or book bag. 

Gataa upcycles her own clothing, typically with painting and patching. She excels at making remarkable pieces out of old clothing. “The pants that I’m currently sporting took a few days to fully finish. In terms of the process, it all really depends on the complexity of the design and supplies mostly, some pieces will take longer than others, but nonetheless they usually come out super cool!” She goes on to illustrate the importance of creativity and individuality in the completion of up-cycling: “I think I’m a bit of a perfectionist, which is definitely needed in my opinion to feel good about what I create, but never feel ashamed to make mistakes because that’s what makes original work feel more genuine.”

The average person purchasing fast fashion uses a piece of clothing only 7 to 10 times before discarding it. If consumers, and students alike, began to recycle their clothing rather than trashing them, the item’s life would be prolonged to last longer and ultimately save it from ending up in a landfill quicker. Consequently, students save money, help out the environment significantly, and are able express their originality through attire all simultaneously.

Take inspiration from peers like Gataa, who use clothing as a creative outlet that in turn evokes a sustainable future. “I live for originality and trying new things, so it’s also something that gives me freedom to experiment with; for me, it’s just another way to showcase my artistry.”