Upcycled fashion is the buzz word these days. The term fashion is no longer confined to mere flaunting of the latest trends; but ‘Going Green’ is fast catching the imagination of people. Since upcycling allows them to innovate with the unwanted, designers have found a way to make trash appealing and are working towards sustainable fashion.

“My creativity should benefit me and not harm anyone or anything,” says Payal Jaggi, a stylist and designer, who regulates her brand under the name ‘Kinche’ to promote eco-friendly clothing. Her collection boasts vintage Kantha jackets that have been upcycled from 30-40-year-old quilts and are unique.

Amit Aggarwal, tagged as the best young designer by Marie Claire India and Elle India, launched his upcycle clothing brand AM.IT and joined the group of green fashionistas in 2012. “For years, ever since fast fashion arrived, we have been facing a lot of waste generation from manufacturing units and clothes rejected by people, which eventually accumulate as dumped material. That’s where the idea of upcycling comes in. I enjoy the sensitivity it takes to make something fresh out of things that were once considered waste. What I enjoy is giving a new identity to products that are no longer usable.”

Talking about his latest a la mode collection, he says, “In our ready-to-wear line, AM.IT’s spring-summer 2016 collection, we started using waste polythene bags sourced from rag pickers and vendors in Sadar Bazaar that were hand-cut and embroidered onto our garments. Also, pre-owned clothing picked up from various markets in Delhi was utilised in addition to the plastic. The material, which was going to get dumped into landfills, was designed into high fashion for our brand.”

The ideology of upcycling deals with a conscious approach towards humanity and environment; for many designers, it is also about respecting sentiments and valuing the nostalgic association with an apparel or an object.

Designer Aneeth Arora’s ‘Pero Upcycle’ believes in keeping alive memories of discarded outfits. “The Pero Upcycle service was conceived to take care of clothes we bought once with a lot of passion, but somehow could not find a way to wear again; we use hand-stitches and special fabrics.”

The jacket you bought with your first salary, the wedding dress you cannot wear again, the sari your grandmother passed on to you — Péro loves how clothes connect with us on occasions and how they have a million stories to tell. “We would like those memories and stories to find a new chapter in your life, and become an heirloom for generations,” says Aneeth, owner of the label.

Meanwhile, designer Paromita Banerjee considers her conglomeration of upcycled clothing a way of revealing a tale. For her, “It is too good to waste and throw away”. This concept is termed as ‘Boro’ in Japanese and she has a collection under the same name.

“Boro celebrates patch-working and quilting in smart separates such as Kimono jackets, waistcoats and shirt dresses. We came back with Boro Part II in 2014, again at Fall/Winter, where we created a wider range of upcycled clothing incorporating the Bengali laal-paar/ temple border fabrics, khadi, bagh printed textiles and quilting,” she says.

On the possibility of green and upcycled fashion getting included in mainstream trends, Paromita says, “It is slowly becoming the most natural extension of our wardrobe, since people are slowly waking up to the idea of sustainable fashion. Now, clients who wear upcycled fabrics and products understand the idea and embrace it. Nowadays, each upcycled product range is well-researched and ideated from the drawing board to implementation.”

Breaking the wrong and pre-conceived notion that upcycled dresses de-glamorise the look, Aneeth Arora calls it a trendy concept. Amit mentions the products are handcrafted skilfully and are durable, while Paromita feels that glamour is directly proportional to practicality and functionality.

All this is in consonance with the emerging trend, as people are fast abandoning polyesters, showing a red flag to never-ending shopping cravings and, thereby, supporting responsible fashion. It is all about creating value out of waste.

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