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Upcycling: the new eco trend

In a world where environmental concerns are increasing every year, new lifestyle, wellness and fashion trends are emerging and imposing themselves by their sustainable character. This is the case of upcycling, a trend in vogue in 2021. Headerpop explains it for you in this article.

But what is upcycling?

Upcycling is a set of techniques that bring back to life worn or damaged objects, clothes and materials by transforming them into a more qualitative product. In other words, it’s making new from old, but better. Hence the literal meaning of the term upcycling “recycling from above”.

The difference between upcycling and recycling is here. Upcycling is a more aesthetically pleasing transformation process that adds value to the final product, contrary to recycling. A recycled product requires the intervention of professionals because it consumes energy but does not benefit from a higher quality than its original product.

And sometimes, upcycling does much more than transform, it reinvents… There can be a real reappropriation of the product towards a new use, sometimes very far from the original one. A glass bottle reinvented as an original vase, a surfboard used as a coffee table, crates as shelves, colorful clothes assembled from several different fabrics… That’s upcycling!

“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed” (Antoine Lavoisier)

In fact, anything can be upcycled. A little inspiration, creativity and imagination… and that’s it! Anyone can try their hand at upcycling.

Upcycling is part of a sustainable trend

For a few years now, environmental issues have gradually become part of the collective consciousness of society. Habits are changing and practices too: we avoid wasting, we sort and we try to reduce our waste.

So upcycling comes at the right time. The use of old materials avoids new raw materials and waste. Nothing is thrown away! The trend appears as an alternative to overconsumption. And by creating new, often unique products, upcycling brings a rare and exclusive character; a character lost to the standardization of many brands exported around the world.

Brands that understand everything about the trend

More and more people are being seduced by second-hand products. Will the era of fast fashion soon be over? Because thrift stores, flea markets and second-hand shops have been experiencing a real rebound in activity for some time now. Vinted, the second-hand clothing and accessory sales and exchange application, is a proof of this enthusiasm with its 37 million users worldwide in January 2021.

A practice with almost unlimited potential, some sectors such as decoration, design or fashion have understood the stakes of the trend and have seized the opportunities that opened up to them by fully embracing the concept.

Luxury brands are also adopting upcycling! Big fashion houses such as Coach, Hermès, Balenciaga or Miu Miu have released pieces, even collections based on the second hand concept. Much more than a transformation, an innovation for the sector!

  • Les Récupérables is a circular fashion brand made in France. Using linen fabrics, mottled clothes and the end of textile rolls, it creates collections of clothes in limited series only four times a year.
Instagram – @lesrecuperables
  • La vie est belt is a brand that recovers old bicycle tyres and tubes to transform them into ultra-fashionable belts
Instagram – @la_vie_est_belt
  • Friendly Frenchy makes 100% responsible sunglasses from shells. Clam, mussel, oyster and scallop shells are collected from restaurant owners and then transformed into chic and elegant sunglasses. You can find these glasses at Seed, the first 100% ethical and sustainable optician in Belgium.
Instagram – @friendlyfrenchy
  • Atelier Extramuros is a committed brand that designs and creates furniture from construction wood or wood recovered from waste sorting sites. The materials are recycled and transformed into custom-made furniture for companies.
Instagram – @atelier_extramuros
  • Qdebouteilles reinvents wine bottles. The brand transforms them into decorative objects, bringing a touch of originality to our home. Vases, egg cups, glasses and candles are its flagship products!
Instagram – @qdebouteilles
  • Entre 2 Rétros is a brand that creates eco-friendly and stylish bags, luggage and accessories from upcycled materials such as leather, automotive fabrics and seat belts. Each collection is unique and produced in limited series.
Instagram – @e2r_paris

Upcycling influencers to follow on Instagram

On Instagram, the platform for inspiration through images, the upcycling trend is taking hold. The hashtag #upcycling has already been used over 3 million times and many influencers are highlighting these unique second-hand products. Here are two accounts to follow the trend.

  • @Julietbonhomme, a big fan of Vinted and second hand clothes shops, shares her upcycled looks and creations. With the help of her sewing machine, she shows us ultra-trendy pieces and reveals all her tricks to make them during Reels or IGTV.
Instagram – @julietbonhomme
  • @ClaraVictorya opts for a rather retro style and shares her vintage looks daily. Between creating clothes, sharing good addresses of second hand clothes shops, publishing Do It Yourself tutorials and opening her own second hand store, Clara Victorya is a trend expert.
Instagram – @claravictorya

Upcycling: a lasting trend?

In a society where the importance of our impact on the environment is becoming more and more important in our daily lives, upcycling is a real trend: it is an eco-responsible practice that everyone can adopt now. Very popular for some time, the concept has already seduced millions of people. Therefore, lifestyle brands must observe the trend very closely. It’s a real alternative to overconsumption, so there’s a good chance that upcycling will be a major part of our consumption habits in the future.

And if you want to develop an upcycling offer, the Headerpop team will be happy to help you by realizing your projects. Do not hesitate to contact us!

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