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How upcycling is making us love sustainability even more

How upcycling is making us love sustainability even more
By Gaia Rattazzi

Ksenia Schnaider is a designer brand based in Kiev making recycling and upcycling the key ingredients for the perfect sustainability and fashion blend. Gaia from @ssustainably_ digs into the concept behind upcycling and its benefits in terms of reduction of waste as well as the huge difference it can make in sustainability. Keywords: uniqueness, individuality and creativity.

This term seems to be getting everywhere these days, but what does it really mean? In order to find out, I interviewed the team behind Ksenia Schnaider, a brand that’s constantly experimenting with upcycled materials to create unique fashion pieces.

For them, upcycling means giving a second life to something no longer used or needed by someone else. It’s a different process than recycling as the material doesn’t have to be broken down in order to be reused: it’s about repurposing clothing waste or fabric leftovers to create new products.

ksenia schnaider

Reworked or upcycled ?

Ksenia makes a distinction between those two terms. Their reworked items are the ones they create out of old clothing such as used jeans or vintage sportswear. When it comes to upcycled pieces, using old clothing is not a must. For example, Ksenia created super special and original patchwork sweaters and cardigans using upcycled textile leftovers of one the biggest textile manufacturers in Ukraine.

Ksenia Schneider
On the right: designer Ksenia Schnaider

These practices are becoming more and more common as sustainable fashion is popularised. Much more than a trend, For Ksenia Schnaider, sustainability is at the core of their brand and is in their vision something that should be embedded in our culture and daily behaviour. It’s a challenge as it requires constant scrutiny of suppliers and contractors, but it also allows them to constantly innovate by researching and experimenting with new techniques and materials to rework and upcycle into new clothing.

So far they’re able to rework 7 tons of clothing each season!

Ksenia Schnaider
Where Ksenia Schnaider magic happens

Fashion against waste

According to the Ellen McArthur foundation, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second. We can estimate a cost of USD 500 billion lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled! Considering this huge amount of waste, practices like reworking and upcycling garments are a must in order keep materials in use for longer.

Ksenia Schnaider - upcycling fashion designer
Founders of Ksenia Schnaider

Upcycled garments mean no mass production but lots of room for creativity dedicated to each and every unique piece. Upcycled clothing requires fewer resources to be made and allows brands (and us who buy their pieces) to shift to a circular economy by extending the life of garments and being more efficient with waste materials.

Be creative, be you!

Ksenia Schnaider
Ksenia Schnaider worn by celebrities

I personally think that the appeal of upcycled garments doesn’t only come from the desire to shop more mindfully to reducing our environmental impacts, it’s also a better way to express ourselves.

Upcycled garments are cool, one-of-a-kind pieces that serve to restore our connection to clothing which we have lost. They are almost like art pieces that can challenge our perception of fashion waste! Clothes shouldn’t be seen as trash but as a precious resource and starting points for unique creations.

Upcycled garments are perfect for our generation that seeks to be more eco-friendly but also develop our own unique style. It is time to support emerging designers and brands who are setting the right example, just like Ksenia Schnaider.

This piece was written by @ssustainably_

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