I’ve been repurposing my clothes from the moment I started going to the mall by myself. Since I wasn’t the kind of kid whose parents just lent their credit card to, I was always in “making more with less” mode. Styling my old clothes so they looked new was one of my fave hobbies. I know, I was a weird kid.
So obviously, when I got my first sewing machine, I went a little crazy. I slashed, took apart, sewed back together so many clothes! Honestly, it wasn’t always successful, especially that time I tried to recreate an outfit Ashley Olsen wore on the cover of Teen Vogue. But eh, life is all about taking risks, right?
Since then, I’ve written many articles on how to be more environment conscious when shopping for clothes. These days, I’m even touring on a fashion truck to show people how to DIY their clothes so they don’t have to give them away! So yeah, you can call me the repurposing queen. (Editor’s note: they need to make the word “repurposing” sound sexier.)
Before sharing my upcycling tricks with you, I just want to say this. Obviously, the best way to reduce your environmental footprint is to consume as little as possible. Believe me, I’m all about buying with intention rather than out of impulse! But I also believe in baby steps. If you try to shift a population’s mindset too drastically, chances are no one will listen. My philosophy: it’s always better to be walking in the right direction than staying still.
On that note, here are 3 ways to give a second life to your clothes!
1. Gather Up Your Stylish Friends
Get on Facebook, ladies! It’s time to invite your friends with stellar taste to a clothing swap event. First, make sure it’s private, so no random people show up trying to swap your stunning dress for their dad’s old t-shirt. The idea is that everyone brings clothes they don’t wear anymore, that are still in good condition and that the other guests might like.
Also, don’t be overprotective of your clothes. Okay, your friend Sarah found happiness with your trenchcoat and she didn’t have anything you liked. Who cares? Keep looking around your other friends’ piles.
And most importantly, don’t forget the cocktails and the party mix (not the snack, the music). I personally suggest aperol spritz and an all-girl-from-the-90s playlist to set the mood for the best clothing swap of your life.
2. DIY Like You’ve Never DIYed Before
I can see right through you people! You scroll through Pinterest daily and see tons of DIY posts that look “so cuuuute, I could totally do that with my old jacket”. When was the last time you actually sat down and did it? Probably in 3rd grade, when you made a macaroni necklace for Mother’s Day.
Well I say it’s time you do it for real. Believe me, there’s nothing more gratifying than upgrading a piece of clothing you were about to give away. The best part? Some of those DIYs don’t require any artisanal skills, just a bit of patience. Update your jeans by ripping them in a couple of places or by cutting the front part shorter than the back (a look I like to call “the mullet”). Or how about glueing — pick one specifically made for fabric — a row of pompons along the edge of your crop top?
If you’re too afraid of screwing up, go to a trusted seamstress so she can make your dreams come true.
3. Headed to H&M? Bring Your Old Clothes!
If all that sounds too complicated, there’s another solution. Did you know that, since 2013, every H&M has a recycling bin where you can drop off the clothes you don’t wear anymore? Whatever the brand or the condition, the company will take care of recycling the fabric for you and will give you 5$ off your next purchase in exchange of every bag of clothes you donated. Since the program was started, they’ve received more than 40 000 tons of textile!
So how does the recycling happen? They break down the fabrics into fibres and transform them back into clothes, which is what their Close the Loop collection, launched three years ago, is about.
What’s cool about this whole initiative is that it’s not only a thing the company is doing on the side, it’s rather at the top of their priority list. By 2030, the brand aims to produce all of its products from 100% recycled materials or from sustainable sources.
Feel like repurposing your clothes yet?
*This post was sponsored by H&M.