As we all aim to shop more responsibly, it can sometimes feel like there are too many so-called sustainable brands and a whole dictionary's worth of technical jargon. Instead of branching out to find the small labels creating the good stuff, we often end up sticking to a few brands we know. Meanwhile there are tons of designers producing gorgeous, unique garments and keeping the environment in mind, too.
This is where upcycling comes in. The process, which has become immensely popular in recent years but has been around for centuries, involves creating new clothing from waste fabric, deadstock or old clothes. While brands like Ganni and Levi's have dropped fully upcycled collections, other labels have committed to making most, if not all, of their product out of recycled fabrics.
And in case you're wondering: these clothes don't look like they're recycled either. In the expanding Scandinavian fashion scene, several brands are seriously mastering this space. Making it their mission to produce less textile waste, these designers – many of whom are set to display their new collections at this week's Copenhagen Fashion Week – are making the world a more stylish and responsible place through upcycled dresses, outerwear and even jewellery. Below, discover the need-to-know Scandi brands that are turning rubbish into wardrobe gold.
Stockholm-based label Rave Review was created on the basis of upcycling, cofounder Livia Schück tells Refinery29. The brand's most popular upcycled piece is a blanket coat made from vintage blankets. "The most significant thing for us is to work with secondhand and vintage home textiles, such as blankets and terry towelling. Along with this we buy deadstock rolls to sometimes combine them," says Schück. Rave Review produces dresses, skirts, tops, trousers and more.
A. Roege Hove
Founded in 2019, this Danish brand specialises in contemporary knitwear made from as many old fabric swatches and samples as possible. Each style is made with a goal to minimise waste and some are even created with zero waste. Others are made with new, responsibly sourced fabric. A. Roege Hove will showcase its upcoming collection at this month's Copenhagen Fashion Week for the third time.
Who says jewellery can't be made from old materials, too? Mia Larsson is a Swedish designer who handmakes earrings, rings and necklaces out of discarded oyster and mussel shells from local Stockholm restaurants. "In my studio I cut, treat and polish the shells, and silversmith the metal to make rings, necklaces and earrings. It’s amazing how much potential and inspiration each shell brings," Larsson tells R29. Her packaging is made from recycled and locally sourced materials.
The ethos behind di(vision) is to "create from what already was", which is the main tenet of upcycling. Founded by Danish siblings Nanna and Simon Wick in 2018, this unisex label works almost exclusively with deadstock and upcycled fabrics to create garments with a vintage feel. Sourced via stocklots, military surplus and vintage wholesale, the brand's products include deconstructed jackets, deadstock hoodies and patchwork denim.
Over the last year, Swedish brand Filippa K has released several collections featuring products made from leftover fabric. The most recent swimwear drop features swimsuits made of black velvet from previous Filippa K collections and blue Econyl® recycled polyamide from post-consumer waste. The brand tells Refinery29: "We design for the full life cycle of a garment with the intention of reducing, repairing, reusing and recycling."
Founded by Norwegian-German designer Sunniva Rademacher Flesland, Studio Mend's focus is on repairing high-quality garments through visible mending or embroidery. "I wanted to find a way to highlight the value of our clothes and present an alternative to throwing away those garments," Flesland tells Refinery29. From Acne tees to Burberry coats, all of Studio Mend's materials are sourced secondhand in Norway. "Hopefully I encourage people to buy higher quality clothes and use them longer, and then invest time or money in repairing them."
Correction: This piece was updated to amend an error regarding A. Roege Hove. A previous version of this story stated that the brand would debut at Copenhagen Fashion Week, but SS23 will be their third appearance.