Britain’s Top 10 Haute-Cyclers: Meet The Pioneers Of Designer Upcycling


Image via Christopher Raeburn


Antonia Edwards, founder of Upcyclist.co.uk, reveals her top 10 British designers breaking new ground in upcycled fashion.

1. Christopher Raeburn
US Vogue once wrote, “remember the four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and Raeburn”. The British menswear designer  is well known for reappropriating used military fabrics and parachute silk in his clothing. His AW15 collection ‘Raft‘ features outerwear and rucksacks made from original life rafts.


2. From Somewhere
From Somewhere was founded by Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci in 1997. They pioneered the art of upcycling clothing from ‘pre-consumer’ surplus – stuff sourced from manufacturing houses and textile mills supplying the luxury fashion industry. The studio now works with indie designers and students from around the world, including Central Saint Martins in London and Hong Kong’s Design Institute. In addition to high-profile collaborations with Topshop, Speedo and London Fashion Week, FS’s creative director de Castro is co-founder of Fashion Revolution.


3. Michelle Lowe-Holder
After several years working in the fashion industry, Canadian-born designer Michelle Lowe-Holder began her accessories-only label with the launch of her AW10 collection, ‘Ribbon Reclaim’. Her works continue to incorporate heritage handcrafts, vintage detail, zero waste and upcycling scraps from previous collections. For SS16, Lowe-Holder’s collection upcycles ribbons from the 1980s, sourced from a Norwegian ski company.


4. Katie Jones 
British designer Katie Jones launched her first collection of garments made from waste yarn for SS14. Her AW15 collection, ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ is another feast for the eyes. Her reworked knitwear is made from reclaimed garments found in charity shops and surplus yarn sourced from design studios. Inspired by traditional techniques, her signature contemporary style is a fabulous explosion of colour and texture.


5. Antiform
Antiform was established by Lizzie Harrison in 2007 and prides itself on using reclaimed materials to mix fashion-forward shapes with heritage craft. The company also strives to source all of the materials and workmanship involved in the production of Antiform clothing within 20 miles of its studio boutique in Leeds, in the north of England.


6. Bottletop
Oliver Wayman and Cameron Saul launched Bottletop in 2002, in conjunction with the The Bottletop Foundation which supports vulnerable young people in Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil and the UK. Its unique bags and accessories are made from recycled, enamel-coated ring-pulls that come in different colours. High-profile collaborations include Narciso Rodriguez and this year, DKNY.


7. Auria
Diana Auria and artist Margot Bowman are the creative partnership behind Auria. This is a fantastic swimwear line made from a new generation of recycled fabrics derived from discarded fishing nets. First exhibited at London Fashion Week SS13, the label has since caught the attention of stars such as Eliza Doolittle, Daisy Lowe and Rihanna.


8. Alex Noble
Fashion designer, costumier and visual artist Alex Noble has a client list ranging from Cirque du Soleil to Lady Gaga. The Brit is also the founder of the EMG (Everything Must Go) initiative. EMG raises funds for a number of charities and causes – some of these are linked to the fashion and textiles trade. Collaborating with designers from a range of disciplines, EMG makes use of remnants of high-end textiles to make exclusive designs which are sold at pop-up boutiques and exhibitions. Noble’s next EMG showcase of in Salvage Ts line will open on Tuesday at The Hackney Shop in east London.


9. Kitty Ferreira 
Founded in 2013, Kitty Ferreira is the brainchild of Valerie Goode. While working as a senior designer in China, she experienced the problem of air pollution first hand. This became the catalyst for a new line of clothing that would be sourced from upcycled fabrics and manufactured in the UK. Her beautiful collection comprises upcycled silks which are altered using herbal dyes of pomegranate and onion skins into on-trend colourways.


10. Termite Eyewear
Termite was founded in 2012 by Ravensbourne University graduates Natalie Finch and Patricia Williams. Their unique designs are laser cut from responsibly sourced materials from UK-based independent reclaimed and recycled wood organisations.

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