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17 Fashion Brands For Recycled And Upcycled Clothing | Sustainable Fashion


We love preloved! 

In fact, we’d go so far as to say used clothes are the best clothes, which is why we always encourage checking online thrift stores before buying new.

Sometimes, however, you just can’t find what you need used. Which is why new clothes made from old materials are the next best thing! 

“What clothing brands use recycled materials?” you ask.

Why, a ton of them!  

This list of recycled clothing brands is filled with either those that are straight “upcycle brands” meaning they literally chop vintage clothing and resew it into new pieces, or brands that simply manufacture a large portion of their clothing with some manner of recycled materials.

It could be deadstock clothing, vintage fabric, plastic bottles, abandoned ocean fishing nets, you name it! 

Read more details about these at the bottom of the article. 

As long as it’s taking something bound for the landfill and giving it second life in someone’s wardrobe, it qualifies. Think of it as re-style-cling.

Before we learn what’s up(cycling) with all these companies, we’ll mention some of the best upcycled clothing brands. 

For recycled clothing in the USA, we were impressed by Synergy for their recycled materials and their recycling program! 

KINdom for their beautiful recycled floral dresses and versatile convertible styles and Outerknown for upcycled mens clothing brands and recycled swim and outerwear.

If you’re in Europe, you can’t go wrong with Organic Basics for their range of recycled materials.

*This post contains affiliate links

Brands based in USA / Canada:

  • Synergy Organic
  • Outerknown
  • KINdom
  • Arielle
  • Broken Ghost Clothing
  • Green Market Vintage
  • Re/Done
  • Urban Outfitters
  • The Upcycled Closet
  • Zero Waste Daniel
  • Naadam

Brands based in UK / Europe:

  • Organic Basics
  • FanFare
  • Picture Organic
  • Ruby Moon
  • Beyond Retro
  • SKFK

Organic Clothing #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017478 perfmatters-lazy” width=”300″ height=”450″ data-src=”https://sustainablereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/17-Fashion-Brands-For-Recycled-And-Upcycled-Clothing-Sustainable.jpg” data- data- loading=”lazy”>Organic Clothing #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017478″ width=”300″ height=”450″ >
Image by Synergy Organic Clothing

Since 1993 Synergy has been creating organic clothing.

While the majority of the line is dedicated to women (including jackets, sweaters, dresses, and blouses), they’ve now started meandering into the realm of menswear with some new eco friendly t-shirts. 

“Every stitch has a story” and theirs is one of financially and artistically empowering Nepalese creators.

Materials: 

While their favored fabric is Fair Trade GOTS-certified organic cotton (as the name might suggest), Synergy uses a lot of recycled synthetics (mostly polyester) to achieve certain qualities cotton just quite can’t. 

Many of these are made from old Synergy garments obtained through their recycling program.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Synergy is both a Certified B Corporation so both their Indian and Nepalese factories are regularly audited for ethical assurance purposes. In addition to that, the Indian factory also bears a Fair Trade certification. 

Green business practices: 

As if being a B Corp weren’t enough, they’re also a Green America certified business, a member of the Organic Trade Association member, and Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program certified. 

Our favorite of their green initiatives, however, is their recycling program we mentioned before since circular fashion is so crucial in making the industry more sustainable. 25% off and reducing landfill waste? No downside there.

Inclusivity: 

With XS-XL size and diversified cataloging, one might go so far as to say every lady could synergize with this brand.

Community & charitable giving: 

They regularly give back, but not to the same few partners. Instead, their proceeds have benefited dozens of schools and charitable organizations, such as Ventana Wilderness Alliance and In-Kind.

Available: Synergy


Image by Outerknown

Surf’s up and we’re riding the waves of sustainability created by this recycled clothing brand. 

Outerknown, the passion project of 11x World Surf League champion Kelly Slater and designer John Moore, is one of our favorite ethical menswear brands. 

Ladies, they don’t leave you out though.

From sustainable and ethical jeans to ethical T-shirts, this brand uses top-notch natural and recycled materials to create a wide range of high-quality adventure clothing that’s stylish enough to wear on the streets as well.

Materials: 

The most upstanding upcycled clothing from Outerknown is undoubtedly their recycled ocean plastic Econyl swimwear and recycled polyester and recycled spandex board shorts.

They also make fair trade sweaters from upcycled cotton, COOLMAX® recycled polyester, and recycled cashmere, and outerwear from recycled polyester (like 100% recycled polyester raincoats!).

They go so far as to make buttons from recycled polyester.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Sustainability starts with transparency,” so it’s great to see brands that publish their full list of suppliers (rather than just cherry-picking the best sounding ones).

Beyond mere transparency, Outerknown has a Fair Labor Association (FLA) Code of Conduct and is Fair Trade USA Certified across their factories in Peru, Mexico, and China.

Green business practices: 

Outerknown is a Bluesign certified brand, so we know their manufacturing does not use harmful chemicals.

They’re also in the process of helping their partners transition to renewable energy and working toward a bunch more goals available in their downloadable roadmap to 2030.

Be sure to also check out their Futureshop for other cool brands and eco friendly products they want to encourage you to buy rather than more wasteful ones. Lots of reusables and other helpful things for building a zero waste kit.

Inclusivity

Whether you’re shopping for men or women, Outerknown is plenty size inclusive with S-XXL tops and swimwear, 28”-38” men’s waists, and 24”-32” women’s waists. They tend to only go for the athletic surfer look with their models.

Community & charitable giving: 

Outerknown’s “commitment to the ocean runs deep” and so their charity work includes a series of advocacy campaigns to bring awareness to ocean plastic pollution. 

Their first was the “Our Tides Turn. We Rise.” tee, the proceeds from which they donated to Ocean Conservancy.

Next, they partnered with luxury watch brands Breitling to create an ECONYL® NATO watch. Here they donated $1,000 to Ocean Conservancy for each one sold.

Available: Outerknown


Image by KINdom

KINdom was born and named after a really important, but often overlooked concept that lies at the core of the sustainability movement:

“Because humans and nature are created from the same building blocks of the universe, we are directly related to each other. We are connected. We are KIN. We are of the same elements that make up the world around us and beyond the reaches of space.

You are The Universe!

Let’s build an environment where we are the responsible stewards of nature, living things, and each other. Let’s build a KINDOM.”

Elegant words for some elegant fashion that includes lots of floor-length floral maxi dresses, flowy blouses, and gaucho pants. 

We’re personally thrilled at the very idea of their convertible collection, which features things like dresses with zip-off bottom layers. Layerable ruffles and a dress that can be worn to the bar AND Sunday brunch? 

Count us in!

Materials: 

KINdom’s recycled clothing materials include recycled plastic water bottles (rPET) or from reclaimed deadstock fabric, like their reclaimed rayon crepe dresses with reclaimed silk trim (they 100% do not use virgin silk).

Note that not all their garments are recycled. 

Others consist of many sustainable fabrics including organic cotton, hemp, Tencel, and linen. They also used a few fibers which we would personally avoid including cellulosic bamboo, rayon, and viscose.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

KINGdom have a collection of limited-run garments handmade by indigenous Asian communities so as to help preserve and promote the rich cultural traditions of marginalized communities.

In fact, KINdom was first inspired by founder Claire’s visit to southeast Asia and the many lessons she learned from the Iranun tribes.

While KINdom does manufacture in China, all their factories and suppliers are “fair-trade, compliant or certified” and they adhere to the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.

Green business practices: 

KINdom is anti-plastic, both in terms of virgin fibers and plastic bags. They ship in compostable bags and implement zero-waste designs so no fabric scraps are left over. 

Plus, many of KINdom’s products meet 13 out of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Inclusivity

Because the KINdom is for everyone, their sizes cover an inclusive XS-XXL. They have a Gender-Free collection!

Community & charitable giving: 

KINdom has a number of charitable initiatives including: donating clothing to the Global Fashion Exchange clothing swap, sponsoring an “epic” beach clean-up with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and running an awareness campaign about climate change and sea ice loss benefitting Polar Bears International.

Available: KINdom


Image by Arielle

Upcycled clothing designer Arielle is named after the Texas-born designer and FIT’s Design Entrepreneurs program MBA scholarship recipient. 

With the intention of creating “clothes [that] are a canvas for you to be you” Arielle crafts some seriously lovely pieces incorporating classic silhouettes, flattering lines, and muted colors.

We love the clean and authentic aesthetic embodied in every bodysuit, blazer, and Bellissimo skirt. 

Materials: 

Arielle’s recycled fabrics include upcycled cotton, recycled polyester (rPET) made from post-consumer plastic water bottles, and recycled wool made from upcycled sweaters and sustainable blankets.

Since recycled organic clothing is also compostable, definitely check out the wool and cotton garments.

Everything is processed without additional dyes or chemicals.

Aside from recycled fabrics (absolutely no virgin synthetics, whatsoever!), they also use organic cotton, organic hemp, wild silk, and milk fabric.

And get this: the title of every piece tells you what main fabric it’s made of, so no clicking and going back over and over again to find that perfect sustainable blend.

An eco-anxious sustainable fashionista’s dream!

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Arielle writes, “Our vision is built from the ground up: we source all materials with great care and responsibility, enforcing supply-chain transparency, human rights standards, and environmental protection.” 

Raw material sourcing aside, every stage of production, from design to distribution, takes place in New York City. 

A lot of their materials are still sourced from America, like their organic cotton from Texas and American raised merino sheep.The only exception is their recycled wool, which comes from the Calamai family in Prato, Italy. They’ve been recycling fibers since 1878! 

All operations adhere to fair trade principles.

Green business practices: 

Arielle aims to “embody and encourage a low-footprint, plastic-free lifestyle.” A big part of that entails using upcycled fabrics, but it also entails their completely plastic-free shipping materials.

Inclusivity: 

This upcycled women’s clothing only ranges from S-L (and some large fitting styles being “one size” only). They promote diversity with their models.

Available: Arielle


Image by Broken Ghost Clothing

From Calgary, Canada, Broken Ghost Clothing makes upcycled clothing for women “OF the world, FOR the world.” Owner, creator, and multimedia artist Jana started the brand after owning a consignment shop for years. 

Tired of seeing so many garments and pieces of fabric go to waste, she decided to put them to good use elsewhere.  

Now she makes tunics, dresses, skirts, and more. Each piece is totally unique, one-of-a-kind, and quite elegant given the cobbled nature of the various fabrics used. 

If you see something you like, act fast because it won’t be around for long. Don’t worry about selection though… she adds new stuff just about daily.

For more inspiration and to get a sense of her extraordinarily wide range of design ideas, check out her Facebook page for photos of past creations.

Materials: 

Using unwanted garments collected from thrift stores, each piece is composed of many different deadstock fabrics. Smaller offcuts are used for decoration and finishing elements on other pieces to ensure as little fabric as possible goes to waste.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Jana is the sole crafter behind these run boho, bespoke creations. She takes slow fashion seriously which is why she makes everything herself and limits herself to a certain number of creations at a time.

Inclusivity: 

Jana makes items in a huge range of sizes, from XS-XL, plus additional plus-sizes up to 3X. All in all, she has offerings for US sizes 2-24!

Available: Etsy 


Green Market Vintage #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017580 perfmatters-lazy” width=”300″ height=”450″ data-src=”https://sustainablereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1621125339_8_17-Fashion-Brands-For-Recycled-And-Upcycled-Clothing-Sustainable.jpg” data- data- loading=”lazy”>Green Market Vintage #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017580″ width=”300″ height=”450″ >
Image by Green Market Vintage

In their words, “Green Market Vintage spring, sprang, sprung from a necessity marked in time.”

Owner and maker Cheryl started by making simple vintage button bracelets. Someone saw her creations at a school fair and suggested she sell on Etsy (to which she replied, “What’s Etsy?). 

“The rest is Herstory”, she says.

Now expanded into the realm of DIY upcycled clothing and straight up vintage pieces she has over 5,000 sales and 5-star average reviews.

One look at her adorable patchwork “Overhauled Overalls”, colorful “Western Hippie” shirts, and classic denim jackets embellished with all sorts of sequins and designs and you’ll see why. 

Materials: 

This handmade upcycled clothing is crafted using vintage garment bases and embellished with scrap fabric or cuttings from other vintage pieces a little too loved on their own.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Cheryl makes every single item herself out of her home in Santa Cruz, California.

Inclusivity:

XS-XL size categories in addition to plus-sized offerings. Hooray for sustainable and ethical plus size clothing!

Available: Etsy


Image by Re/Done

What’s more American than Levi’s jeans? 

An all-American recycled clothing brand that gives new life to them!

Founded by Sean Barron and Jamie Mazur, Re/Done isn’t just a vintage clothing brand, but a “movement to restore individuality to the luxury fashion space, a movement to keep heritage brands relevant, and a movement to create sustainable fashion”.  

By partnering with Levi’s Jeans “to make jeans as unique as you are”, they offer a wide selection of upcycled sustainable jeans (in either mid-rise modern skinny, boyfriend, and belly-button skimming high-rise cuts), shorts and denim jackets of a luxury nature.

Note you WILL pay for the luxury part of that… some jeans cost almost $500!  

Materials: 

Re/Done specializes in upcycled denim clothing made from vintage Levi’s. 

By taking these old jeans apart at the seams, and mix-and-matching various pairs together to create totally unique, one-of-a-kind looks, in limited quantities. 

Note that not all Re/Done’s stuff is clothing made from recycled materialsTheir non-recycled “ready-to-wear” clothes are made of still sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and Tencel.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

All Re/Done jeans are made in ethical factories in downtown Los Angeles within 10 miles of their headquarters. 

They also upcycle largely by hand, in order to best preserve the original stitching, wear marks of owners past, and overall storied heritage of vintage denim.

Green business practices: 

Aside from the emissions saved through their localized supply chain, they use water-conserving manufacturing methods and no harsh chemicals.

Inclusivity: 

Re/Done’s upcycled Levis comes in 23” – 32” waists. They promote some diversity in their models

Available: Re/Done


Image by Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters isn’t just the best place to get modern vinyl records and a hipster-chic wardrobe to match.

They’re also a great place to get “curated vintage clothing” for men and women from their Urban Renewal line, which consists of both the Remnants, made of deadstock fabric, and authentic vintage pieces.

They even feature vintage or recycled designer clothing from time to time from designers like Armani and Dooney & Bourke.

While the selection is sometimes limited, it’s always changing. Check back every Wednesday for new upcycled clothing online drops.

Materials: 

While Urban Outfitters, on the whole, have some work to do in regards to sustainable fabrics (and they are working on it!), their Urban Renewal line is made purely of remnant garments, small-batch leftover fabric rolls, and unique vintage finds from thrift stores, yard sales, and the like. 

After selecting only the best, they clean and re-design the finds so “they fit seamlessly into your home and wardrobe.”

Supply chain & labor practices: 

As a larger conglomerate, URBN is committed to responsible sourcing (follow this link for all pertinent human rights policies and vendor code of conduct). 

They claim to be “adamant about protecting the safety, freedom and rights of those who produce the goods sold in our stores” and work with entities who share these values.

Their website includes access to the full supplier list.

All Urban Renewal pieces have extra ethical merit as they’re produced entirely in the USA.

Green business practices: 

Most sustainability initiatives come straight from the top at URBN, the parent company of not just Urban Outfitters but Free People, Anthropologie, and others.

Across all these brands, URBN maintains an Impact Committee in charge of sustainability goals, policies, and progress tracking under the belief that “no act is too small to have a positive impact on the environment.”

They also compost, offer in-store recycling, have energy-efficient LED lighting in all stores, energy-efficient laundry machines, a solar-powered order fulfillment center, and recycle all fabric scraps through non-profit Fabscrap.

Their Adaptive Reuse home office is also almost completely built from recycled building materials.

Inclusivity: 

Urban Outfitters typically offers sizes XXS-XL, though their renewed items may have more limited sizing depending on how much fabric is available. They promote diversity with their models.

Community & charitable giving: 

The UO Community Cares program partners with a whole host of organizations like the Parks Project, To Write Love on Her Arms, Big Brothers Big Sisters, I Am a Voter, Life Without Plastic, and more

They also donate to local community causes and integrate employee volunteer opportunities in their business.

Available: Urban Outfitters


Image by The Upcycled Closet

The Upcycled Closet is another DIY upcycled clothing that may be small in size but big in impact.

Owner and textile artist Paulette started upcycling as a financial necessity to clothe her children. But after a niece asked her to make old clothes into a dress, she realized all the creative possibilities in pre-loved clothing.

She now brings 55 years of sewing experience to the table and a love for creating “unique, quality upcycled clothing for creative women, who want to showcase their personality”.

With hundreds of 5-star reviews, women are loving it.

Her store contains over 150 items at any given time, with things like face masks, skirts, tunics, dresses, and jackets, all of a whimsical patchwork nature characterized by their bold colors, exposed stitching, and raw hems.

She even does custom creations. For instance, if you have some favorite worn-out garments (like old sentimental t-shirts) just contact her, send them in, and get a new custom garment out of them! 

Materials: 

All pieces are crafted using cut apart pieces of second-hand clothing gathered by herself and friends from garage sales and thrift shops (or old clothing from the customer’s closet!).

Every piece is checked for holes and stains and thoroughly washed.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Paulette makes everything herself in her very own home in Michigan, where she says the long, cold winters give her lots of time to sew! She sources all her fabric scraps more or less locally as well.

Green business practices: 

Paulette is also a big champion of upcycled fashion, promoting the practice by selling her wares at local art shows and participating in yearly upcycled fashion shows.

Inclusivity: 

Options in S-XXL, conveniently organized into size categories on Etsy. There’s always the custom options, too, if you don’t see something you like in your size.

Available: Etsy


Zero Waste Daniel #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017578 perfmatters-lazy” width=”300″ height=”450″ data-src=”https://sustainablereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1621125341_924_17-Fashion-Brands-For-Recycled-And-Upcycled-Clothing-Sustainable.jpg” data- data- loading=”lazy”>Zero Waste Daniel #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-2017578″ width=”300″ height=”450″ >
Image by Zero Waste Daniel

One of a few upcycled clothing designers in NYCZero Waste Daniel stands for sustainability and inclusivity with their fully genderless and zero waste upcycled clothing…

Though you’d never know it with how beautiful and seamless these designs are thanks to their innovative “ReRoll” sewing technique. 

Eponymously named for founder and “zero-waste lifestyle pioneer” Daniel has been making waves in the clothing industry since his brand went viral in 2017 with features by Buzzfeed, CNN, the New York Times, and more. 

In Daniel’s words, his brand ethos is this:

“I don’t make work that hurts people, or oppresses people, that makes someone hate their body or their face, or that pollutes someone’s water. I’m willing to work with what we’ve got, I don’t care how long it takes, I care that you look good. I care that it’s made here, that it’s made fair.” 

Whether you want organic hoodies with dinosaur graphics and sassy slogans, or swim and activewear made from upcycled ocean plastics, ZWD is making it. 

Aside from their own collection, they also collaborate and design specific collectors for other brands such as Pact and ThredUp (where you can do some clothing upcycling of your own and sell used clothes online).

Materials: 

ZWD is 100% zero waste, meaning all garments are made of 100% pre-consumer cutting room scraps, design room waste, deadstock garments, and regenerated post-consumer plastic. 

Every piece prevents about 1 pound of textile trash from entering the landfill.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

All design room scraps and deadstock garments are sourced either locally from right within New York City’s garment district, or through the New York non-profit textile recycler FabScrap.

The pieces are then given new life under fair trade conditions at their Brooklyn workshop. 

Green business practices: 

“Zero waste is the goal of both the garments we make and the studio we create in,” Daniel writes, so ZWD is the epitome of closed-loop manufacturing. 

They do so by using every single bit of fabric that comes into their workshop, as well as using zero waste office supplies and recycled and recyclable materials for packaging.

Inclusivity:

ZWD clothing is completely genderless, so as to fully support all body types and gender identities. 

It also comes in XS-XLL sizes and uses a super diverse cast of models to show off these cool creations.

Community & charitable giving: 

They frequently give back to various social organizations. Their current partnership is with Color of Change, and they ask you to join them in donating to defund hate and show Black Lives Matter.

Available: Zero Waste Daniel


Image by Nadaam

Who says recycling can’t be relaxing?

Not Naadam!

Their super soft fair trade pajamas, lounge dresses, and cashmere sweaters (for men as well as women) are just about the most comfortable recycling ever.

Plus, you’ll find extra relaxation in knowing that Naadam’s sweaters are sourced fair trade at direct pricing so Mongolian herders are paid top amounts.

The cashmere industry’s tendency to underpay Mongolian herders was actually the reason Matthew Scanlan and Diederik Rijsemus founded Naadam in 2013.

Materials: 

The majority of Naadam’s lineup consists of cashmere sweaters, made from either GOTS organic cashmere, GRS certified recycled cashmere, or (usually) a blend of the two. 

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Any time a company uses wool, we want to make sure it’s ethical wool. Naadam’s virgin organic cashmere is harvested through hand trimming, the most cruelty-free and gentle of all shearing methods.

As a brand, they invest in veterinary care and sustainable breeding programs and hold their herders to a strict animal treatment policy.

Their internal sourcing policy “prioritizes the use of natural materials with environmentally-preferable characteristics, including industry standard certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), OEKO-TEX®, Responsible Wool Standard and Global Recycled Standard (GRS)”

All cashmere is purchased at direct-to-supplier prices (enduring a middle man doesn’t undercut the herders’ profits).

In addition to that, they pay fair trade premium prices that go toward livestock insurance, healthcare, retirement funds, opening local parks and recreation areas, and providing access to clean drinking water to over 700 Gobi desert families.

90% of Naadam’s products are made in two BSCI compliance factories in Chifeng, China.

Both these and all suppliers are third-party audited and compliant to Naadam’s ILO-equivalent Code of Conduct. Part of this includes not just paying fair wages, but making regular wage adjustments in accordance to cost of living. 

Green business practices: 

Naadam’s goats are raised in the Bayangovi region of the Gobi desert, an area less susceptible to desertification. Of course it helps that they also keep their goats in an area the size of Manhattan to lessen their impact.

With a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 (among other goals you can read about in their 2019 Sustainability Report), they offset shipping emissions through the Carbon Fund.  

They also use green energy powered facilities, water recycling closed-loop dyeing processes, FSC-certified recycled paper tags, fully recycled plastic mailers that are biodegradable (but not compostable- they’ll break down in a couple years)

Inclusivity

XS-XL sizes and a diverse range of models.

Community & charitable giving: 

Aside from using recycling textiles in their own products, they also donate any returned or imperfect products to the charitable organization, Green Tree Textiles.  

Beyond that, they work on several fronts to better the lives of Mongolian herding communities like those from which they source their cashmere.

This includes efforts to establish the Tsagan Yama Cooperative to provide more guarantees of fair wages and donating to the Gobi Revival Fund which helps protect herding communities from various environmental disasters and urbanization.

Available: Naadam


Organic Basics #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-3025802 perfmatters-lazy” width=”300″ height=”450″ data-src=”https://sustainablereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/1621125343_104_17-Fashion-Brands-For-Recycled-And-Upcycled-Clothing-Sustainable.jpg” data- data- loading=”lazy”>Organic Basics #recylcedclothing #upcycledclothing” class=”wp-image-3025802″ width=”300″ height=”450″ >
Image by Organic Basics

Organic Basics is a delightful Danish brand that specializes in sustainable and ethical basics, including winter accessories, ethical activewear, ethical underwear, tanks, and t-shirts.  

We were actually gifted one of their Silver Tech active tees made with sustainably sourced OEKO-Tex 100 silver (AND recycled nylon). 

She’s been able to wear it multiple days without it smelling and it’s super comfortable.  

Materials: 

The most prevalent of OB’s fabrics is GOTS certified organic cotton, but a large percentage of their lineup also uses either premium GRS-certified recycled nylon, recycled wool, or recycled cashmere (only used in their fair trade hats, ethical winter gloves, and sustainable scarves).

Supply chain & labor practices: 

All recycled fibers are sourced from Italy, and their factories are dispersed across Turkey, Portugal, Austria, Italy, and Scotland, which means their entire supply chain is based in Europe. Visit each factory via their website to learn more about the conditions and employees. 

In terms of fair trade, OB is a Sedex member, and all factories are BSCI-compliant and regularly visited by OB staff. They sit down with their employees to ensure they’re happy with their jobs.

Green business practices: 

OB is in the process of saying, “Goodbye carbon!”. They’ve started this journey by offsetting 100kg of CO2 for the shipping of every order placed through Chooose (at absolutely no cost to you, because all shipping is free!). 

Their purchased offsets provide funding to the UN verified Koru Wind Farm in Canakkale, Turkey.

They also publish their latest Impact Report and have individual product impact counters.

Inclusivity

OB makes everything in XS-XL sizes and has some really great models and campaign images that truly appeal to real people, tummy rolls, stretch marks, and all!

Community & charitable giving: 

Through the Organic Basics Fund, OB awards two yearly grants to one environmental grassroots organization that submits a winning project proposal. 

They also recently launched the Low Impact Project, which a photojournal documenting their ambassador’s efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

Available: Organic Basics


Image by Fanfare

Launched in 2018 as Fabric for Freedom, the newly rebranded Fanfare is a London fashion brand that curates upcycled bohemian clothing under the acute style eye of designer and founder Esther Knight.

They say:

“The fashion industry was built on secrecy and elitism, it was opaque. Transparency is disruptive, in the sense that it’s a breath of fresh air and a useful weapon of change. At Fanfare our first goal is to set an example to fashion brands on how a company should be run. It should be the norm to have business operations that are responsible.”

A combination of sustainable virgin fabric pieces and entirely recycled ones, Fanfare’s lineup is bold and contemporary, while still being subtle enough to blend into professional fields. 

For something practical yet just edgy enough, check out their genderless suits.

They also sell additional one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that are only available in their London pop-up shops. 

Materials: 

Fanfare is all about the closed-loop system and uses recycled materials as much as possible. Their limited-run designs in the recycled collection are created from recycled offcuts and the small ends of fabric rolls. 

Recycled ones aside, you can read about all their other sustainable materials here.

Each of these materials comes from organizations certified by entities like OEKO-Tex and GOTS.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Fanfare sources their fabric offcuts from high quality fashion and interior design brands, though they don’t mention exactly who or where these brands are located. 

We do know, however, that everything is made right in London where “Fanfare guarantees fair wages and good working conditions” and actively works toward abiding by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Green business practices: 

Their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable.

Inclusivity

Inclusivity of sizes varies by garment depending on stock and how much deadstock fabric was initially available for a certain piece. In general, their tops come in 6-16 UK sizes (or 2-12 US) and bottoms 26”-34” in waist.

Community & charitable giving: 

Fanfare has joined forced with a few different organizations to fight modern slavery and plastic pollution, including A21, Freeset Global, and #OneLess.

In the name of promoting more conscious fashion, they host pop-up sustainability talks in London and do a lot of work with the Conscious Fashion Campaign and fashion-revolution-week-2020-the-fabric-for-freedom-roundup” target=”_blank”>Fashion Revolution.

Available: Fanfare


Image by Picture Organic

Whether you like to shred pow or paddle swells, the French company Picture Organic has all the recycled sustainable outdoor clothing you need.

This includes not just basic swimwear for men and women, but wetsuits, rash guards, and impact vests, as well as a full line of general activewear and ski and snowboard outerwear, including ethical winter coats.

While they’ve only been around since 2008, they’re pretty much a go-to for adventure clothing made from recycled materials. 

Definitely the best upcycled clothing for outdoor lovers!

Materials: 

Picture Organic is at the cutting edge of material technology, particularly recycled material technology! Everything they make is partially (if not entirely) recycled. 

Their board shorts and regular swimsuits are all made from recycled nylon ski jackets, and their ski jackets are in turn made from plastic bottles.

While their wetsuits aren’t purely recycled, they are a blend of recycled polyester and Ecoprene, a material made from Japanese Limestone and recycled tires.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Picture Organic uses 20 different factories (though 2 of them account for 84% of production).

They regularly visit these factories and are also a Fair Wear Foundation certified brand and partner with supply chain management company, Agence Innovation Responsable (AIR).

As of November 2019, they’re also now a certified B Corp.

Green business practices: 

Picture’s biggest sustainability-related initiative is their Zero Oil Objective, which has led them to be almost 100% recycled.

Currently, they run on about 20% renewable energy (working toward being 100% by 2030).

They also refuse to ship by air and use the Picture Your Impact tool to disclose the impact of each item.

Inclusivity

XS-XL sizes available for all items.

Community & charitable giving: 

Picture Organic is the picture of a do-good company. Their Picture For Good grant campaign funds either social or environmental action plans based on a winning proposal.

In addition to that, they help the WWF protect polar climates and Beyond Boarding to campaign against Canadian gas and oil farms. 

They also donate imperfect products to those in need. For instance, when they issued a recall on their backpacks for a minor defect, they donate them to school children in Nepal.

Available: REI


Image by RubyMoon

Registered Community Interest Company RubyMoon is a UK based upcycled clothing not-for-profit brand that’s putting new meaning to sustainable swimwear and sustainable yoga clothes. 

How?

Their pieces are designed for both! 

This ultra versatile GymToSwimwear line of sports bras, crop tops, rash guards, compression shorts, and leggings allows you to be even more minimalist and conscious about how much you consume. It’s also UPF 50+ sun protective and resistant to chlorine and salt water.

“Activewear for Activists!” they call it.

Materials: 

RubyMoon was the very first swim company to ever use ECONYL, sourced from the ocean in partnership with HealthySeas.org. Everything they make is fully recycled as well as OEKO-Tex 100 certified.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

Female led and run RubyMoon manufactures either in Spain or across the pond in the U.K., from which bagsofsupport.co.uk handles their distribution.

All workshops are safe and the wages fair. If you have further questions about the supply chain, they encourage you to email them. 

Green business practices: 

By using recycled fibers, digital printing methods, and integrating 9/17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into their business practices, they’ve been certified as producing 42% fewer carbon emissions. 

They also offer a fabric recycling program so send back ANY brand of old swimsuits and other stretch fabrics so they can reuse them.

Inclusivity

All gym-to-swimwear items are fully sized from XS-XL and their sports bras go up to 38DD.

Community & charitable giving: 

Ruby Moon is the only not-for-profit swimwear company in the world that we know of.  

This means ALL profits go toward providing loans to educate future female entrepreneurs across developing companies in order to break generational cycles of poverty.

Each RubyMoon piece is named after a woman that their profits have supported.

Available: RubyMoon


Image by Beyond Retro

Beyond Retro has been dealing in upcycled bohemian clothing since 2002. 

If you’re a true vintage connoisseur who revels in clothing like the retro Nike and rare collectible designer pieces, Beyond Retro has all that and more, repurposed into a very full line of jeans, jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, dresses, skirts, and eco friendly handbags and purses.

Their “Reworked Vintage” is available for both men and women.

Materials: 

Beyond Retro sells some vintage garments in store as they are, but the Beyond Retro upcycled vintage clothing LABEL is 100% crafted from carefully collected and curated secondhand fabrics. 

Even the trims and hardware are re-used when possible (they even use spare pennies stamped with their Anchor logo as buttons!)

These recycled fabrics come from the 99% of garments that don’t quite make the cut for their vintage floor. 

That’s why their raw material reserve consists of a mind boggling 93 million pounds (or 60 Olympic swimming pools) of fabrics of every conceivable quality, all waiting for that perfect time to be reborn.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

They operate in India, in a “safe and comfortable” factory fully operated by Beyond Retro. There they have 85 full-time employees who are paid fair trade wages and Skype with Beyond Retro staff daily. 

They chose India because it serves as a global hub not just for clothing manufacturing but for secondhand sorting for recycling.

That means they literally make their clothes in a factory across the street from their sorting facility, keeping quality control at a maximum and emissions and production time at a minimum. 

It also allows them to maintain a zero waste production policy because they can simply return any fabric that doesn’t pass the prototype phase so they can be recycled back into production elsewhere.

After manufacturing, all garments are sent to their East London HQ for final approval and distribution to stores in the UK and Sweden. 

Green business practices: 

Designed for the future, yet made from the past, Beyond Retro ensures their vintage remakes won’t drop when the trends are against them.

They actually monitor the runway and other fashion trends to help predict what the next fashion trends will be so they know which vintage styles to bring back.

Their stores also recycle not just clothes, but all cardboard boxes and price tags.

Inclusivity

While the sizing is somewhat random garment per garment (depending on stock of these limited-run items), they manufacture in 6-20 UK women’s sizes and XS-XL men’s sizes.

They celebrate diversity and individuality while “creating a spirit of inclusiveness”. Their words of wisdom: “Forget the rules – if it makes you happy wear it!” 

We’d just add the caveat “and doesn’t hurt anyone or the planet”.  

Community & charitable giving: 

Beyond Retro says, “We believe in recycling. Clothing, organs and everything in between.

While 85% of the population in Sweden want to be organ donors, only 15% actually register. That’s why they’re doing something about this with their Organ Donor Price Tag initiative.

It works like this: All garments in their Stockholm stores have tags with Organ Donor Cards on them. 

Tear it off, fill it out, put it in your sustainable wallet, and then if something tragic happens to you, you’ll at least have the chance to save someone else’s life.


Image by SKFK

SKFK is based in northern Spain’s Basque Country, and their colorful, geometric prints are certainly reminiscent of the Spanish art and architecture.

From affordable dresses to plush-yet-posh sweaters, SKFK has elegant everyday wear to suit just about every occasion. 

Materials: 

SKFK combines natural fibers (typically organic cotton) with Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Recycled Content Standard (RCS) recycled synthetics. 

Their sweaters, for instance, are typically made from acrylic and polyamide, and their fair trade dresses from recycled polyester. 

While they can’t always guarantee the recycled fibers weren’t originally processed without chemicals, their own production bans all these fashion.com/cdnassets/documents/sustainability/SKFK-RSL-2.0.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>restricted materials and chemicals.

Supply chain & labor practices: 

SKFK sourced their cotton through Indian farming cooperatives as part of the Chetna Coalition. Many of their recycled synthetics are sourced from their own production scraps.

See fashion.com/cdnassets/documents/sustainability/SKFK_SUSTAINABLE-BUSINESS-DEVELOPMENT-REQUIREMENTS.pdf” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>here for their Supplier Code of Conduct.

Green business practices: 

As a fashion.com/en/circularity” target=”_blank” aria-label=” (opens in a new tab)” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>circular fashion brand, SKFK offers in-store repairs, a clothing recycling program, and a fashion.com/” target=”_blank” aria-label=” (opens in a new tab)” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow” class=”rank-math-link”>fashion rental service. Embodying the ideal of recycling through and through!

They also have individual garment carbon footprint calculators, only design two collections per year, use recycled cotton paper tags, use green energy in their workshops, ship without air via UPS carbon neutral shipping service, and mail in reusable or returnable Repack packages.

Inclusivity

Women’s clothing in sizes XS-XXL, which size charts indicate are 2-12 US sizes. They do promote diversity in their product modeling.

Community & charitable giving: 

SKFK donates to the Berrizan Foundation, a Basque NGO working against industrial pine and eucalyptus plantations that threatened the local biodiversity.


Textile waste may be the worst fashion trend since putting goldfish in shoes.

In fact, textiles have one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material according to the EPA. We consume huge amounts of clothing annually and donate or recycle pitifully small ones.

While Americans recycle or donate just 15% of clothing (of which under 20% gets resold), they throw away 70 pounds each per year, amounting to 21 billion tons of discarded textiles on an annual basis.

UK readers, don’t think you’re innocent in the whole ordeal either. Every UK household is estimated to throw away fashion” target=”_blank”>35kg of clothes per year, amounting to 300,000 tons of textiles hitting the landfill per the last tally in 2016.

And this is only the waste generated by the final product. Tons of textile waste comes from the production stage: fabric trimmings, ends of fabric rolls, damaged items, unsold “deadstock” product. Traditionally, all this either gets thrown away or fashion-firms-stop-burning-clothes” target=”_blank” class=”rank-math-link”>burnt.

Recycled clothing (to simply buy or sell used clothes online) is better simply because it has the potential to divert all that waste away from the landfill and into someone else’s closet. 

While we have a long way to go before we reach full fashion circularity, some of the brands on this list are making a significant dent, all things considered.  

Beyond Retro (in combination with their parent company Bank and Vogue diverted 10% of the UK’s total textile waste in 2019). 10%!  By just two brands!  Imagine what we could do if even more brands jumped on board.

The practice of recycling textiles has the potential to be the major shifting point the industry needs to clean up its act.

Best of all? We as consumers can do SO MUCH to help it along. All we need to do is actually recycle our unwanted clothing and replace it with other recycled stuff. There are so many brands offering garment take-back programs, and not just of their brand stuff, but ANY brand. Have a read through any of our garment guides and you’ll find brands doing this.

The opportunities are there, so let’s seize them.


When it comes to upcycled clothing materials, the options are nearly endless. 

To upcycle something is to save it from a landfill or incineration, using it to create something new. 

In the case of clothing, a “new” upcycled skirt could be made from fabric from other sources, like upholstery, textile scraps, or even carpeting.

A common source of upcycled material for clothing is simply other clothing (or deadstock clothing).

Recycled clothing materials, on the other hand, often begin life as non-fabrics. Post-consumer or post-industrial plastic waste being the biggest example, whether polyester or nylon:

  • Recycled polyester (rPET): Sometimes called Repreve, this is usually made from #1 plastic bottles.
  • Recycled nylon: Also called ECONYL, recycled nylon is mostly made from recycled ocean plastics like abandoned fishing nets—which alone are responsible for 1/10th of all ocean plastic. Recycled nylon is often used in swimwear and activewear.

Some semi-synthetics and vegan leather fabrics (like Pinatex and Cupro) are made with different types of recycled waste byproducts, like pineapple leaves. 

Read more about these cutting edge fabrics in our masterlist of sustainable fabrics.   

What are the best recycled fabrics?

Out of all the recycled fabrics out there, we prefer natural fibers. 

Recycled cotton, denim, hemp, and linen not only keep a material out of landfill, but can also be composted at the end of their second life. Just check to be sure it hasn’t been blended with synthetics. 

Recycled synthetics don’t have such a green end-of-life fate—unless we keep a circular system going. 

But synthetics do have the advantage of abundance. They make up around 64% of modern fabrics (not even to speak of all the other plastic waste recyclable into fabric)

Fortunately, most synthetics can be recycled indefinitely—and the process requires 90% less water, 85% less energy, and produces 90% less CO2 emissions than their virgin counterparts.

Whenever you wear and wash recycled synthetics, always use a Guppyfriend bag to prevent microplastics from entering waterways. 


Let’s break down the process for making upcycled clothing.

Textiles are first sorted by material and color (so dyeing isn’t required, making it even more low-impact). 

Sorting is difficult and requires a lot of manpower, which is one reason why so many textiles end up in landfills instead. Fortunately, automated sorting processes simplify the process and hopefully will be adopted more in the future. 

Hardware or embellishments (zippers, buttons, etc.) are removed and may be recycled for separate purposes. 

For natural fabrics, the fabric is then shredded or manually separated into fibers and yarn. A process called carding will clean and mix this yarn before it’s respun into knit-ready material. 

Recycled synthetics, on the other hand, are chipped, shredded, and melted before becoming the yarn that ends up in your ethical sneakers or eco friendly luggage. 


We love clothing made from recycled material! 

But how can those clothes be even better for our planet?

First, we only looked for upcycled clothing brands that either make a large percentage of their garments from recycled materials or deal with upcycled vintage clothes. 

Have a certification by the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) to ensure a minimum recycled percentage helped in that department.

Then our good ol’ guide to sustainable and ethical fashion once again came in handy with the remaining criteria: 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Here we get into the ethics—the fair and proper treatment of everyone in the supply chain, from seed to shelf. We look for fair pay, safe working conditions, and proper treatment of workers. 

This is where transparency comes in. We want to know #WhoMadeMyClothes?

We get a little extra peace of mind to protect us from the dangers of greenwashing with some third-party certifications:

Green business practices:

Recycling fabric and other materials is a great start—but these brands are doing even more. 

We’re happy to see eco-efforts like recycled/recyclable packaging, repair programs, water and energy conservation methods (closed-loop manufacturing), avoidance of harsh chemicals, supporting carbon offset programs, and small, local supply chains. 

Inclusivity:

We know it’s hard with limited availability of recycled/deadstock material, but body positivity, cultural representation, and inclusive size ranges is still important. 

We want clothing that accommodates all genders, bodies, and (ideally) budgets. 

Community & charitable giving:

Every little bit matters, so it warms our hearts to see donations to charities, employee volunteer days, or simply raising awareness for environmental and social causes. 


We hope this list has helped you learn where you can buy upcycled clothing online.

Or maybe it’ll even inspire you to try some upcycled clothing DIY out of some favorite pieces you own that maybe just don’t fit or are looking a bit too ragged in places.

Regular readers will know now is the point in the article where we stress only using this list as a resource if you have to buy new and opting for used things first.

But the great thing about this particular topic is, this list is somewhat synonymous with buying used!  

From a conservative material use perspective, buying upcycled clothing is just about as close to the sustainability of thrifting as you can get while avoiding bringing home something that could potentially smell like your Great Aunt Rita for the next few washes. 

So keep wearing clothes made from recycled materials and demanding that brands offer an option to recycle old garments!

The more recycled clothes we wear, the lower the demand for crude oil drilling and other “new” raw material sourcing. 

Lastly, we would so appreciate it if you would help us spread the word about how great upcycled clothes are and how they can potentially solve a big part of the fashion industry’s wasteful system.

Give it a share among your thrift happy friends and tell everyone you know: recycled clothing is the future of sustainable fashion!


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