Upcycling inspiration

Words by Liana Hardy | @liana_hardy
LH: For those wondering what upcycler or upcycling may mean, it is essentially recycling waste and transforming old/unused items into new. My love for thrift transformations and upcycling first began in my early university days, where I’d immersed myself in many documentaries relating to fast fashion. At the time, it was an uncomfortable subject to be faced with.

Realising that I was involved in an industry so severely prone to unethical means was uneasy and almost undermined my creative approach in fashion designing. From this point on, I pledged to devote more investment to improving on sustainable fashion methods to the best of my ability. I wanted to rid the negative stigma often attached with sustainable fashion, whilst making it more of an important matter for consumers. And so my journey with thrift transformations, consisting of many joyous trips to Savers and general thrift shops, began.

My main inspirations are heavily influenced by the large amount of time I spent on student exchange in Salford University, Manchester. It was here where I discovered my main design philosophy and most importantly, a love for using draping techniques. Through draping, I was able to explore new ideas in using pattern pieces—creating shapes, volumes and silhouettes. I hope to share this inspiration in my fashion designs as a way to educate viewers about sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion can take many different shapes and forms, starting with upcycling—I want it to be the next big thing.

Here’s a few tips to get you on the right track to upcycling:
1. Don’t throw old/unused items too hastily. Rather than throwing items out, alterations and amending by hand can sometimes be worthwhile!
2. Brainstorm ideas to recycle elements of the broken or neglected items—it can be any small or big element, like the fastening, pocket, fabric etc.
3. Big garments such as evening/formal gowns have a tendency to be easier to manipulate and upcycle.
4. Deconstruct an old or unused garment to study its construction. This may provide ideas on restructuring the existing pattern pieces to a suitable fit and shape.
5. Upcycling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy new items, they may quite often be under your nose!
6. Let your creativity run free and have fun experimenting!

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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