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Luxury Upcycling Is The New Luxury

By Victor Gee

When you first hear the word upcycle you will most probably associate it with the widespread technique of recycling. So what does upcycling have to do with the fashion industry? And most importantly, why are luxury brands adopting this relatively novel method?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a presentation of an up-and-coming designer in Paris. Her collection was quite different on various levels; she created beautiful affordable pieces with a very luxurious feel, something you would shop at a store on Avenue Montaigne or Bond Street. She was a designer on a budget, yet her clothes had a mix of innovative cuts, vintage styles and most importantly, good quality fabrics.

As she started to introduce her brand, she didn’t hesitate to mention the source of the fabrics, “The velvet here comes from Givenchy, and the buttons there are from Louis Vuitton.” But how can you have access to all these materials I asked? “Well, I like to upcycle” she responded.

Most people may be familiar with reusing clothes as a way to give old fashion garments a new life. For example, an unfashionable bag, coat or scarf could be completely transformed into a new model. And since sustainable and ethical fashion are major trends ever since the success story of brands like Stella McCartney, many leading fashion houses have consequently started to jump on the green bandwagon.

While “rest-over” fabrics were often disposed or sold at niche boutiques, fashion Maisons have now started selling them directly to providers who distribute them legally to fashion outlets.

The advantage of this business model is that the recipient designer can purchase premium fabrics for a lower price, allowing him/her to produce high quality looks. Not to forget the association with an iconic brand which elevates the label’s image. 

On an even higher positive note the mega-fashion houses will waste no leftovers, hence a solid way to democratize fashion in a very eco-responsible manner.

An overall win-win situation. The client will benefit from the best of both worlds: an original and inexpensive design with the upscale quality of an Italian or French creation.