Repurposing Clothes is a New Fashion Trend!

This woman celebrates refashioning.

Thread, buttons, and scissors mend and repurpose clothes.

(Lunov Mykola /

Reducing your ecological footprint can start at home, right in your closet. British fashion graduate Kate Harper has taken this to heart by creating a non-profit called We Wear the Trousers. She wants people to keep their clothes longer. Be it by tending, mending, swapping, styling, sharing, and refashioning, her important message is that fashion is about much more than buying new clothes.

Given that 10 percent of global carbon emissions are from the fashion industry, according to the BBC, Harper decided that one should use fashion for good and not for evil. In this BBC video, she explained, “I couldn’t really justify designing and creating more stuff in a world full of stuff.”

Tips to reduce your ecological footprint
Galvanized by this reality, Harper decided people should be educated about how they can keep their clothing longer. In the BBC video, she offers these three basic tips to help reduce one’s fashion ecological footprint:

Repair your clothes instead of replacing them. Harper is proud to showcase her own restored and repaired clothing. To do this, she makes patches in contrasting bright colors, publicizing her decision to mend clothing. She points out that mending is easy, especially with many online tutorials to help you care through repair.

Rewear clothes by mixing up old outfits you own or wearing clothes that were previously worn by others, give preloved clothes a second life.

Educational workshops
Harper also offers free drop-in workshops for people to restore their clothing, as described on her website. On Saturday mornings twice a month in a Norwich cafe, she invites the community to gather and mend their clothes together. She provides fabric scraps, patches, and buttons and invites participants to share their tips.

Harper also recently teamed up with the University of East Anglia, offering an exhibition about sustainability and fashion for the Norwich Science Festival 2021. And for the Christmas season, Harper is offering a fash-fest called the DIY Festive Jumper Revolution.The December 11 event will focus on upcycling and embellishing existing festive jumpers. Her rationale for holding this event is the fact that the British buy 12 million festive jumpers annually, yet two out of five jumpers are only worn once.

“If one person goes away having learnt something new, or thinking about the way they use and wear clothing because of what we’ve put on, that just feels really amazing,” Harper explained in the BBC video. Harper dreams of a future where wearing used clothes and repurposing our own is the fashion trend. “We’re here to remind everyone that actually, fashion has very little to do with shopping and everything to do with connection, community, creativity, and joy.”

Traditional retailers are also becoming inspired by this trend and are selling second-hand clothing in their stores. What was once called “used” is being relaunched as “pre-loved.” Shoppers find this appealing as they can resell their clothes, then buy “new” pre-loved clothes in a sustainable way.

So revisit your closet this holiday season. Instead of buying new, trade clothes with friends, mend, or remake so you can celebrate a new you and a revitalized planet!

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