Sustainable fashion has always been something of an oxymoron for me. While I commend the trend-bucking designers using natural or upcycled materials for their environmental concern, most of their offerings are far above the price range of the average clothing consumer. Better for the earth in theory? Yes. But until it’s accessible to the masses, does it really matter?
Estonian fashion designer Reet Aus thinks it’s time to get real. Her “Trash to Trend” platform provides a way to extend the life of textile leftovers by bringing them back into the production cycle. The result is upcycled garments with minimal environmental impact that can be mass produced to keep costs low.
Aus’ Trash to Trend model consists of three many processes:
- Waste mapping and database – giving designers an overview of where local textile waste is being produced, its type, and quantity.
- Design techniques – offering designers techniques for upcycling textile waste in fashion design.
- Web-based platform – an interactive framework integrating the different elements and making direct communication possible between waste generators, designers, and clients.
In order to become a successful upcycler, a clothing manufacturer must design “additional products alongside the main product that can be cut out from the same fabric as the primary product at the same time and therefore move towards a zero-waste concept,” writes Aus. “When an upcycling method is used in the design process of a mass production factory, the value it generates can be measured on the basis of to what extent the waste is being minimized.”
This concept has allowed Aus to produce the world’s first demonstration of textile waste upcycling in mass production, oﬀering products that are made with 70 percent less water and 64 percent less energy per garment and have at least 40 percent less production waste. And with all this efficiency, the prices are closer to what you’d find at the mall, rather than the runway.
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