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Global Design, Local Resources

The idea behind the Trash to Trend platform grew out of the doctoral research of Reet Aus, a designer who has been experimenting with upcycling in fashion and theatre costume design since 2005. The aim is to share design globally and find and use leftover textile materials locally. The platform provides a way to extend the life of textile leftovers by bringing them back into the production cycle. The result is upcycled garments with minimal environmental impact and a transparent production cycle that still allows for serial production.



1. Waste mapping and database – giving designers an overview of where local textile waste is being produced, its type, and quantity.

2. Design techniques – offering designers techniques for upcycling textile waste in fashion design. Within the model there are a variety of techniques that provide for one-off pieces, small-scale manufacturing, and mass production.

3. Web-based platform – an interactive framework integrating the different elements and making direct communication possible between waste generators, designers, and clients. This way a transparent product chain is created, waste data is accessible, techniques are shared, and upcycled products can be sold and marketed.



There are three methods to manufacture clothes – as an individual sewing at home (DIY), an independent designer or a small producer working in a studio (one-off or small-scale manufacturing), or mass production. Upcycling can be applied to all three methods.



Implementing a DIY approach to upcycling means that the design and the creation of a garment have a minimal environmental impact. The use of the Trash to Trend model alongside DIY allows that technique to be taken to a more professional level by the use of designer patterns (available virtually on the Trash to Trend site). This technique diminishes the need to purchase new products, prevents waste creation, and ensures that the new garment is produced with minimal environmental impact. The ultimate goal here is an individual design where a person makes a new product out of their own used clothing using a digital pattern and manufacturing instructions.



Up until now, upcycling has mostly been employed by independent designers for unique, one-off designs. While it is expensive and time-consuming to use upcycling for unique pieces, this type of upcycling enables designers to substantially reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and minimize the use of raw materials. The Trash to Trend textile waste database directs clients to local studios that have an overview of the local textile waste flow and are able to produce one-off clothing designs. Clients can choose from a large variety of basic materials and designs, customize the designs through professional fittings, and have them produced locally. By involving the client in the process of completing the garment, a more personal relationship with the designer and the product is developed and, consequently, the produced garment is more “valuable” for the consumer and will likely be used for a longer time.



A company using their own textile leftovers for upcycling must begin by rethinking the design process so that the technology applied to the primary garment would produce leftovers during the production process. This means designing additional products alongside the main product that can be cut out from the same fabric as the primary product at the same time and therefore move towards a zero-waste concept. When an upcycling method is used in the design process of a mass production factory, the value it generates can be measured on the basis of to what extent the waste is being minimized.



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