Ms Megan Lynn, 22, has bought 15 upcycled items from various Instagram shops that sell upcycled clothing.
The event executive has spent approximately $450 so far. She believes her money is well-spent as she loves the creative designs that people come up with when creating their reworked items.
Angeline Chang, 20, runs an Instagram shop that sells such upcycled apparel. Her customers are typically young people aged 18 to 25.
“I think that the youth especially enjoy individuality and being able to stand out,” she said. “Most upcycled items are one-of-a-kind. This gives the pieces a unique identity, which transfers on to the wearer.”
Angeline’s products are priced between $20 and $50. They are not necessarily cheaper than items from fast fashion brands, but they draw customers who want a more environmentally friendly closet.
“Supporting second-hand and upcycled clothing brands enable consumers nowadays to develop a more ‘guilt-free’ closet,” Angeline said.
69,754 posts have the hashtag ‘reworked clothing’ applied to them on Instagram. Screenshot from Instagram
Angeline observes that more Instagram shops like hers have been set up over the past year in response to the demand from environmentally and socially conscious consumers.
“It is so common and in trend that even fast fashion brands are producing clothing inspired by these reworked pieces on Instagram,” Angeline added.
Stacey Tay, 19, is the owner of another shop on Instagram that sells second-hand and upcycled clothes. She also observes that young people aged 18 to 25 are more likely to buy upcycled items from her store.
Videos on topics such as upcycling or transforming old clothes usually get lots of views. Screenshot from YouTube
Stacey shared: “Social media has helped educate people on how the fast fashion industry uses cheap, non-recyclable material that generates a lot of garment waste. More people are also aware of the sustainable fashion movement due to popular YouTubers who do ‘thrift flip’ videos that gain a lot of views.”
Besides Instagram shops such as Angeline’s and Stacey’s, upcycling techniques and the ‘aesthetic of use’ have also returned to the fore of fashion design.
Emily Adams Bode, a designer based in the United States, is one such designer who upcycles vintage garments in her collections.
Selected by Business of Fashion as one of the 500 people shaping the fashion industry, French designer Marine Serre also presented upcycled clothing for both her Autumn/Winter 2018 and 2019 collections.
However, even without famous designers behind the collections, upcycled fashion seems to still have its fans.
Ms Lynn shared: “Most of the stores I purchase from are not helmed by professional designers. I think it is more about the creativity and the passion for it that allows the items they release to look as good as it does.”
Mr Adrian Huang, 42, a lecturer in Fashion at Lasalle College of the Arts said: “In the case of upcycling clothing, it is perfectly fine to be self-taught. Ultimately, the customers will decide if the offer is fit for the market.”
Is it really possible for anyone without any sewing chops to transform pre-loved clothes into trendy pieces?
Check out my attempt at upcycling my dad’s old polo shirt into an ootd-worthy two-piece set.
Proofread By: Kuan Qin Yi Tricia