We all learnt ‘best out of waste’ in school, and even made some items as projects. The ideas, and the items we made, were soon forgotten; but now, they are making a comeback. Upcycling is eco-friendly, and as many are showing, fashionable too.
Old jeans, sarees, T-shirts and scraps left out from garment manufacturing form a bulk of what we send to the landfills. In order to limit clothes from finding their way to landfills, designers and innovators have come up with ways to recycle and upcycle them. YourStory lists a few startups that are not only upcycling old clothes but are also making a fashion statement.
Dwij, which upcycles jeans to make bags, was founded in September 2017 by Soumya Annapurna Kalluri.
A mechanical engineer from the University of Pune, Soumya was a researcher at Godrej's Innovation and Design Centre, analysing and cataloguing industrial waste when she came up with the idea to prevent old jeans from ending up in landfills and upcycling them into utility bags.
Soumya aims to create awareness about the shortcomings of fast fashion, and the ability of second-hand textile to become usable material. Currently bootstrapped, Dwij is a team of five. It collects 'third-grade-jeans' from traders in Mumbai, and after industrially washing them, stitch them into bags.
Dwij upcycled 2,000 pairs of jeans in the last three months, and has created 300 bags, ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 500 each. The company sells up to 200 bags each month from its website alone. Dwij's products are also listed on other sustainable ecommerce websites.
Delhi-based Doodlage was founded by Kriti Tula in 2012 and it upcycles and recycles clothes to produce fashionable outfits for those in the age group of 18 and 45 years. What's interesting, is that the waste collected at Doodlage during the process of upcycling is used to make home furnishings and bags.
Fashion designer Kriti collects waste from fabric manufacturers for her raw material and Doodlage's products range from Rs 3,800 to Rs 14,000. Her designs retail at 40 different stores across the country.
Launched in 2011, KaSha is a Pune-based upcycling label by Karishma Shahani Khan. From jackets using waste plastic to skirts hemmed with boarders of old Banarasi sarees - KaSha upcycles everything. Some of the pieces from KaSha's collection can also be worn reversibly, and in several drapes. The founder believes in a zero-wastage policy, and does not throw anything away. While an upcycled scarf costs around Rs 7,500, KaSha's Mac Mojo Jacket is priced at Rs 26,400.
Kolkata-based fashion designer Paromita Banerjee insists on not seeing recycling as 'jugaad'. She mixes discarded materials with Khadi and colours to develop new clothes, the composition of each being different.
The concept of BORO means mending and patching old items of clothing to make them last for years. It is similar to West Bengal's 'Sujni Kantha' concept, which means running free-hand stitches across clothes to patch layers of sarees and make quilts.
Paromita's collection of upcycled sarees ranges from Rs 10,710 to Rs 23,415.
House of Wandering Silk
House of Wandering Silk, founded in 2011 by Katherine Neumann, upcycles old silk into fashion accessories - from necklaces for women, to bow ties for men. It is a social for-profit company based in New Delhi.
House of Wandering Silks partners with women's self-help groups, artisans, and NGOs to not only produce ethic upcycled handmade products, but also to empower women artists. House of Wandering Silks sells its curated collection online, and also partners with stores across the world.
Their products are priced starting Rs 55.
Tanushri Shukla's project, Chindi, hires women from Mumbai’s Mankhurd slum to upcycle and hand-make products. Chindi, founded in 2014, has a team of four women, and they hire artisans as per the orders they get.
Their first product - rugs - continue to remain their bestseller. Most of the women employed by the company earlier made rugs from old clothes and were familiar with the concept. Chindi added some design innovations and that is how the company was born. All its products are inspired by the lifestyle of the crafts-women working with the company.
The company produces rugs, mats, bags, pouches and hair accessories and the products are priced in the range of Rs 150 and Rs 1,500.