How advanced is fashion "recycling" really...


Fashion recycling is not as easy as one would think. The main reason for this is that a lot of clothes are made from blended fabrics which are more difficult to be broken down into their component materials as the technology is, unfortunately, not that advanced yet. Environmentalist and author Elizabeth Cline points out that only one per cent of clothing is currently recycled to make new clothing. She also states that most of the recycled clothing is used to make secondary products such as carpet padding or insulation. Another challenge is that some fibres such as cotton or wool also tend to lose their quality after recycling, especially after several recycling cycles. Luckily there are other options. Some small sustainable fashion companies have taken a different approach to recycling by either simply reusing available materials or by using leftover fabric from production.


Here are some successful examples:

Did you know that every year around 200.000 tents are left behind by festival visitors in the UK? This is quite shocking, isn’t it? That is why we think it is fabulous that the founder of Billygoats & Raincoats, Beth Cosmos, has found a way to reuse and recycle the tents left behind and transform them into beautiful raincoats for children, all of which are designed and produced in the UK . The founder of Billygoats & Raincoats holds a fashion design degree from the University of Wales and her dissertation focussed on fashion and sustainability, which certainly helped her to acquire the necessary knowledge to create her sustainable business . However this is not all, as Beth only uses tents which would end up on landfill. Also, all component parts of the tents are reused - for example, strings. Furthermore, Billy & Raincoats is also collaborating with a lot of UK festivals to reduce plastic waste and to promote recycling.


Another inspiring company is Zero Waste Daniel by Daniel Silverstein. This company is based in New York, USA, and uses a 100% pre-consumer cutting-room scraps, design room waste and leftover materials to create their edgy designs. The leftover materials are mainly from US based brands. In general, around 15-20% of fabric goes to waste during the manufacture of clothes, with most of this ending up in landfill. Visitors of the Zero Waste Daniel shop can see how his unique pieces are created. Customers can even have him make unique customised styles for them. The best part about Zero Waste Daniel is that this company also shares its know-how with other companies to help them make zero waste designs such as the American brand, Eileen Fisher.


Our final example is Kenyan company Suave Kenya. Suave Kenya produces beautiful backpacks and wallets with the help of second hand traders, factories and tanneries, where they source their material from cut off fabrics and unwanted leather. The result are beautiful products such as wallets and backpacks incorporating stunning Kenyan traditional prints.


For more information on Billygoats & Raincoats: 

For more information on Zero Waste Daniel:

For more information on Suave Kenya:

For more information on fashion recycling: