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Up-Cycling and Recycling with Veteran Fashion Designer Reynu Taandon

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If your wardrobe is filled with clothes; most of it you don't know what to do with or how to put them into use, try upcycling and recycling them. A novel concept for the west and a culturally embedded practice for the easterners, recycling of clothes is an ancient fashion practice that is carried on in some form or another in the Indian subcontinent. While many sit, thinking about what good can this lockdown bring to them, revamping one's wardrobe, recreating, and organizing garments can be a well-utilized drill practiced indoors. 

As several contemplate upon what would be the future of fashion post-COVID 19, sustainability and greener fashion is definitely one of the answers you will find in numerous I Knock Fashion's fashion blogs. Sustainable fashion or green fashion is a process in which all stages i.e., primary (production), secondary (manufacturing), and tertiary (transportation) are involved and responsible to cater to fashion in a manner that reciprocates positively to the environment and the workforce involved. It is a wide concept that promotes zero tolerance for injustice, environmental degradation, and disrespect. Upcycling and recycling although coined as terms in the 1990s have been applied in daily lives by many for centuries.

What Is Up-Cycling And Recycling In Fashion?

Up-Cycling And Recycling In Fashion
Upcycling V/s Recycling

An action of utilizing a garment for a longer period of time by metamorphosizing its form, design, or style is upcycling and recycling in fashion. An aspect of sustainable fashion, these applications can bring a huge change to the environment. 

Where, upcycling refers to creatively transforming a garment/ fabric, cloth material into something usable, recycling signifies breaking down of parts and then creating something new out of it. Hence, upcycling elevates the overall value of the product properties while recycling demotes the overall value of the product properties. In either case, these are eco-friendly practices promoting sustainable and ethical fashion.

Up-Cycle fashion
Up-Cycle fashion

 Example: When we dye a stained saree or t-shirt, embellish it and wear it again, it is an upcycled product as the overall appearance has enhanced in the process. But, when we take old cotton shirts and sarees process it in order to extract its yarn and then reprocess it into a new product like a rug or a sheet, it is called as recycling of materials as now the original form or properties are lost and new imagery and utilization has been given to the product. Thus, upcycling can be referred to as an easy DIY whereas recycling involves skills and processes. 

Has COVID 19 Created A Dire Need Of Such Sustainable Fashion Practices? 

environmental degradation caused by the fashion industry
environmental degradation caused by the fashion industry

 There is a massive economic loss happening each day which has led us all to think about our choices. We need to think about the environment and make conscious choices. We have to come out of this situation with hope and consider how much more can be done with the so-called waste we discard on daily basis thus making Upcycling and Recycling an integral part of not only the fashion industry but also of our way of life.- Fashion Designer, Reynu Taandon

As the reason for the source and spread of this pandemic remains unclear, the consequences of the same have led to the seeding of a new perspective towards fashion and the global fashion industry. The need for sustainable fashion is distinctly visible as environmental degradation caused by the fashion industry is coming into light through various information sources including digital media. According to the edgexpo.com, about 95% of the textiles that land up as fills are recyclable, also, globally, it is claimed that a lifetime of a garment piece should ideally be 3 years, but in India, its hand-woven and handspun garments are of such quality that it lasts for generations. 

hand-woven and handspun garments
hand-woven and handspun garments

COVID 19, is responsible for major economic losses prioritizing necessity over luxury. Fashion might also have to take the role of falling into the necessary and comfort bracket along with luxury for few. COVID 19 has widened the role of the fashion industry as it might urge them to follow and promote sustainable fashion along with slow fashion and fast fashion practices. 

The COVID 19 scenario would be a reset button moment for the industry. This is the time we can measure the damage we have done and come out of it with some kind of change. Everybody will be slowing down, asking more questions, and being a little bit more considerate. There will be a beautiful outcome from this.- Fashion Designer, Reynu Taandon

Reynu Taandon On Recycling And Up Cycling In Fashion

Reynu Taandon On Recycling And Up Cycling In Fashion
Upcycled Saree

The veteran fashion designer of the Indian fashion industry Reynu Taandon, although designing for a long time established her brand in 1999 under the name Mynah's. She has been the Brand Ambassador of the Paradiso Sahara Group and at Fashionista a fashion educational institute. Having adorned the wardrobes of many celebrities along with Nawabs and Begums, Reynu has a unique sense of fashion along with in-depth knowledge about the fabrics, techniques, and the functioning of the industry.  

A nationally and internationally established label, Mynah's has showcased and exhibited across the globe. Reynu Taandon in an exclusive interview to Knock Fashion gave insights and her perspective towards the sustainable fashion trend of upcycling and recycling and the effects of COVID 19 on the fashion industry.

  • Seeing the difference in the environment now, how will you inculcate sustainable fashion in your business model? Will recycling or upcycling be a part of it?

This situation has given us time to take look around and understand how incredible nature is. How it is bouncing back quickly when we pause for just a few moments. Looking at this I strongly feel that sustainability is surely the way of life. We will not only be recycling and upcycling, but we would be reconsidering the whole process of production of fashion down to the starting point, i.e. the sourcing of materials.

  • Which are the most favorable fabrics that can be upcycled or recycled easily?

There is no favorability in fabrics for upcycling and recycling. We cannot choose fabric as per our will or choice. If we do that we are not being true to the idea of a better approach to fashion. For me, making the best use of anything lying around as waste is Upcycling or Recycling in the truest sense.

  • What are you planning or strategizing on your label once the market opens?

We are planning on slowing ourselves and start making incredible, desirable, fashionable, well made timeless pieces instead of going forward with fast fashion. Until a few weeks back everything was moving so fast that the wardrobe had to be updated with the blink of an eye, however, after the current economic situation, having classics in our wardrobes will be the new trend that the market will see

  • Has your marketing or branding strategy changed due to the cancellation of events and the crisis of COVID 19?

Our main focus after the work resumes would be the Brides getting married soon. Since the economy is no great, they are our first priority. We want to help by giving them the outfit of their choice at a better price so that they don't have to compromise on their dream look because the wedding is the most important day of their lives, we want to make it as special for them as we can.

  • Do you think online fashion will also be an integral part of the future of fashion from now onwards?

I think that online fashion will be a part of the future of fashion from now, but not the integral part. Moving forward everybody is going to be making conscious choices taking into consideration the impact of them towards the world, especially for the heavier and costlier pieces. And for that, people would prefer looking at an outfit physically to aid that choice rather than looking at the screen and making a decision to purchase it.

  • A few tips on upcycling and recycling of sarees and western wear? 

I see all these beautiful handcrafted sarees in every women's wardrobe. Instead of buying new ones for an occasion one can either go for a new look with a stylish blouse or a crop top with the same saree or using patchwork they can be redesigned into a fabulous new outfit,  by doing so one will not only have a new outfit but also save the cost of buying a completely new one.

IKF Desk (Conclusion)

future of fashion
Great Fashion Should Never Go To Waste

The fashion industry alone is the second-largest catalyst of pollution, affecting all elements of nature negatively. From emitting 10% of carbon emission in the air to releasing about 500,000 tones of microplastic in the ocean, the fashion industry is also responsible for the extinction or endangering animals.  While fast fashion cannot be eliminated completely from the global fashion industry, upcycling and recycling in fashion can be embedded in daily practices to slow down fashion and align it to come in harmony with nature. Other sustainable fashion concepts such as One Mile Wear and Second Hands can also be introduced in the buying and consumption patterns of the fashion consumers.

The scenario and crisis created by COVID 19 truly have put the masses and classes into rethinking on their purchases of fashion while motivating them to draw inspiration and value-driven lifestyle from the olden days of the eastern world. 

The fashion designer fraternity across the globe is now contemplating on what the future of fashion holds and how they can integrate sustainable practices in their businesses.

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