Giving New Life to Old Clothes

We all have old favourites in our wardrobes that we wear time and again, until they’re stained, tired-out versions of themselves. And most of us also have a number of those purchases that seemed a great idea at the time, but never fit quite right, or the colour was a bit off, and they’ve languished in the back of the wardrobe without ever being worn.

Here are a few ideas on how to rejuvenate those over-loved garments, as well as what to do with the ones you've never worn.

Repair

If you’ve worn your favourite jumper until it’s holey, or it’s been a victim of those pesky carpet moths, why not try fixing it yourself?

The Japanese art of Boro comes from the theory that things that are not perfect are better than those that are. Boro technique uses patches and intricate stitches to create beautiful patterns in the areas where holes once were. All you need is a needle, thread and upcycled scraps of fabric, and there are some great YouTube how to guides to help you get started.

Donate

Many charity shops are no longer accepting items after being overwhelmed with donations after lockdown. But there are other ways you can donate clothes to make sure they don’t end up in landfill.

This includes charities such as Smalls for All https://www.smallsforall.org/  which collects new and nearly new underwear and distributes it in places where it isn’t easily available. This can make a life-changing difference, for example to teenage girls who can compete their education without having to miss school during their period.  

Sals Shoes https://www.salsshoes.com/  is another great social enterprise which aims to give a pair of shoes to the 300 million children worldwide that do not currently own shoes. They accept all shoes in good condition and redistribute them to children and young adults who do not own shoes all over the world.

 

 

Swap

As the old saying goes, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ Before donating your clothes, let your friends have a good rummage through your rejects.

There are also many organised clothes swap events. Fashion Revolution provide resources for hosting and attending swaps (safely). 

Return

Taking your used and worn clothes back to the shop may sound like a strange suggestion, but many brands including Mud and Nudie Jeans offer discount vouchers for bringing your well-loved denim back. They break the fibres down and reuse them to create post-consumer fabric that can then be made into jeans again!

Swedish Stockings encourage people to send three or more pieces of hosiery (from any brand) to them in exchange for 10% off your next purchase. Although the technology is not yet there to turn recycled nylon tights back into tights, the nylon is processed and used to create funky furniture instead!

A word of warning - many high street brands such as H&M offer ‘bring back’ discounts for old clothes, but there is no evidence that these clothes get recycled, and quite often they will end up as landfill.

Make Face Masks

If we’d suggested this a year ago most people would’ve wondered what we were going on about! But now they’re a daily necessity, and making face masks out of old clothes is a fantastic way of upcycling old garments. There are hundreds of YouTube tutorials for everything from no-sew masks for beginners, to advanced advice for sewing experts.

Don't Bin It! 

There are so many exciting things that you can do with old clothes, but remember the one place they shouldn’t go is the bin.

Any wool, cashmere, cotton or linen can be composted, and anything synthetic can be used as cloths to clean around the house.