At a reuse centre like Emmaus Bristol, the festive season can be a strenuous time – so many donations come in as people make space for new stuff, and for an upcycler like me, it’s time to encourage people to rethink before they buy.
Only 1% of the things we buy are in use six months later (1millionwomen), so Xmas is an opportunity for waste prevention, one way you can seize the chance, is to make a gift yourself!
Here at Emmaus, we get a lot of denim donations, and with the influx of fast fashion, its hard to keep up. One of the things we do at Kecks Clothing is to teach simple upcycling tips, and denim embroidery is a classic way to update your denim and create a unique gift.
All you will need is an embroidery hoop, thread (or wool), embroidery needle, an old denim jacket/shirt/skirt/ shorts/jeans, and a design you’d like to apply!
Designs can be as simple or complex as you like – and can be added to over time, by yourself or the person you gift it to! here I tried out a simple rose design and was more than happy with the result!
This old shirt was transformed, and the customer who bought it was surprised that the shirt was upcyled.
Simplicity is often the key, and the internet is full of great patterns to follow.
This skull design has been so popular with Kecks that we’ve made a few now, and even include it in our workshops. Its a great cover up for stains, or some great visible mending for holes or tears.
Or if you’re short on time, why not use a patch – iron or sew on, cheap to buy or find second hand.
Fashion Revolution week runs 24th to 30th April 2017, and encourages us all to ask #whomademyclothes – to question the sources and ethical status of our clothing, alongside offering advice on how we can maintain our style without engaging with the high street.
Kate of Antiform very kindly offered to revamp Helen’s skirt with some of their reclaimed tweed – just one of the ways you can rehaul your wardrobe without engaging with fast fashion. See Fashion Revolution’s pages for more suggestions you can try, no matter you level of skill!
For our Bristol based pals, why not head down to #RevampRestyleReuse on Wednesday 26th April, tickets available now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/revamp-restyle-reuse-tickets-33753191705
Most people planning the refit of a retail space would bob along to B&Q and buy a few fittings, maybe a rail or two, and go about their opening. Not Kecks, we like to think outside the box a little, and so our Upcycling Lounge refit will be sourced entirely from reuse!
Starting my second upcycled shop refit, i have been reminded of the sheer scale of materials available to those looking to use second hand resources. Of course, working within the business, the stuff crops up during the working week: but networks like Bristol Reuse are striving to make them accessible to the public.
Often what is needed, is a bit of a rethink of what is necessary in a business: what must be bought new, and what can be borrowed, or reused.
In a recent t-shirt upcycling workshop with Call of the Brave we reproduced handpicked designers from local artists, and transferred then onto reworked t-shirts, using hand made stencils.
The results were great, a brilliant day all round, and Call of the Brave now have an upcycled option alongside their ethically sourced tees: check out their crowd funded designs!
We also managed to catch up with Made in Bristol TV to film the first of our features on their ‘Thrifty Thursday’ pieces. This time we took second hand clothing from Emmaus and showed people how to make their festival wardrobe by repurposing and restyling what they already own!
So, in both cases, materials already exist to suit peoples needs – all we have done is facilitate that. Simple!
So with the Upcycling Lounge set to launch in 2 weeks (eeek), we at Kecks are hoping to once again inspire reuse at every stage of the project.
Step one:our fixtures, fittings, and paint….all in tomorrows blog!
The world of reuse, upcycling, and recycling, is often described as a modern phenomenon. Sometimes seen as an outsider industry, it can be belittled and cycnically used by large companies to gain the ‘green market’.
What, in fact, is a modern phenomenon is the idea of waste – of resources, once used, becoming waste product, and the need to deal with that.
The old adage of the new car losing a quarter of its value the minute it drives off the lot runs through my head as i pluck wedding dresses from my local recycling centre, or pull bags of clothes on hangers from litter left on the street (NB this is theft by finding, but that’s another blog). In our hyper driven economy, once its worn, used, boring, unfashionable, broken, stained, too small, too big, scuffed, or just surplus, its waste. But it isn’t waste. What determines waste is what happens to it once it leaves the owners hands.
In the textiles sector that Kecks is part of, and in the furniture world we are just moving into with workshops, there is a movement away from seeing second hand garments and home wares as devalued, to seeing the innate value of each resource. If we donate an object to a charity shop, no matter the quality or condition, there may be a great undervaluing and the subsequent loss of revenue may not benefit your cause. It can lose money. Also, an old garment or object is subject to the same scrutiny you subject it to before throwing it away – so if it seems ugly or old to you, it may well to the person in the shop, and thus will not sell – again it becomes waste to deal with. Our responsibility as donors and consumers, does not go as far as simply giving, it means we have to ensure what we donate can and will be used, and to support the methods used to keep it from landfill. But how?
Longstanding charity Emmaus, which has operated internationally since 1971, recognises the challenge of getting consumers to see the donations that come into their centres as equal to the goods in any other shop. They engage with the commercial sectors – allowing many start up businesses and home owners a cheaper alternative when setting up, alongside affordable goods for local people in their hundreds of outlets. Reuse is central in their centres, and the companions who run them dedicate their time and ingenuity to recycling so often, that i have learnt endless amounts of new tips and tricks since i took up residency in their warehouse studio.
Now we are working together to show shoppers there is an alternative to the fast fashion industry, and its unsustainable consumption, by housing upcycled clothing brands and furniture alongside donated goods, in an alternative ‘department’ store. Piloted in the Stokes Croft store in central Bristol, the Upcycling Lounge will hold lines from Kecks, Emmaus vintage, and other local designer who source their goods from reuse and is set to launch summer 2016.
Are we excited? Errr just a bit!!
And also pleased that the idea of old being inferior, of second hand being waste, of charity shops being places for old tat is being challenged head on by the charity sector.
Emmaus values human beings and is working to tackle the consumer culture that creates the world of the haves and have not’s: “Serve those worse off than yourself before yourself. Serve the most needy first” is its global ethos, and how better to do so than to provide a viable alternative right in the commercial centre of a city meaning those who shop with them provide the income needed to sustain the solidarity projects that give to those most in need. If furniture is cheap, we can help some of the poor, but if we create a system of distribution and reuse at all levels, we can cater to all pockets and give to those in need – and give them beautiful, lasting foundations to build their homes upon. By recognising and paying for the innate value of our ‘waste’ we fund this work, reduce landfill, create a rich and varied market, and provide for all.
Nothing is waste!
Follow us online for further updates on how you can be involved, and more upcycling in action.
I made a pledge in 2015 that I would buy no new clothes in 2016, and instead swish upcycle, swap, borrow, make, and generally wind my way through the year without spending a penny on new clothes. I have allowed myself to shop at charity shops once a month, but on a one in one out basis.
My aim is to show how shopping and not necessity is the basis of our current textiles industry, and through my own example show people there is an alternative to this planet destroying economy.
So, when Labour Behind the Label began advertising their 6 items challenge I masochistically could not refuse.
The concept of the six item wardrobe was interesting to me has someone who owns a lot of clothes. I mean a lot. My job has allowed me to build up a fair collection pieces that I love, and the chance to refine those down to the bare necessities was something I couldn’t resist. However yesterday, when the reality of wearing 6 bits of clothing for 6 weeks during a British winter Into Spring became real, I realised I would have to work harder than I thought to try to stay true to the promise I had made to pledgers.
Coats, shoes, and accessories aside (and of course underwear) I have chosen an extra large Pink Floyd t-shirt, faded denim shirt, black three-quarter length sleeve jumper, black and white striped vest dress,red wrap around dress, and my favourite ripped skinny jeans which were essential for work; upcycling furniture can get messy.
Looking at this tiny pile of clothes and the large wardrobe, that i have now put to bed buy draping an ugly throw over it for the next month and a half, I’m already worried that this challenge may prove very difficult. Like so many of us I’m used to reaching into my wardrobe and pulling out what I fancy to wear that day, and being self-employed in the world of Arts and textiles how I dress is a large part of me, but what is more important is that i remember who made my clothes.
So here we go!
Please do show your support for our global textile workers, and for my whiney angst by donating via this link: https://sixitemschallenge2016.everydayhero.com/uk/helen
For more information about the challenge and Labour Behind the Label, look out for the next blog.