5 Upcycle Designers To Watch
From hand embroidery to illustrations and more
We wanted to take a moment to recognize a few individuals that are gracefully riding the new wave of upcycled fashion. In an era where we’re all doing what we can to decrease our carbon footprint and consume less, garment upcycling/reworking is one of many solutions in fashion to get a fresh new find without purchasing something “new.” When I use the terms “reworks” I’m referring to garments that were manufactured by a typically familiar brand, like Carharrt or Nike, that a designer will take and add their own flair to it whether it’s additional garment dye, screen prints and embroidery or full-on cut and sew.
Beyond the environmental benefit, one of our favorite things about upcycled garments is that they are always one-of-a-kind artworks which builds a direct bond between you and the designer.
Founded by Austin Williamson - a Philosophy and Art History student - Petrified Good is one of my favorite rework brands, most commonly known for creating its own take on deadhead and Vampire Weekend merch using vintage Patagonia Baggies as the vessel. Petrified Good has struck a special chord with many in the fashion industry due to the resurgence of deadhead culture. The brand is garnering attention from the likes of the GQ Style staff, deadhead merch gods Online Ceramics, John Mayer and many others. Petrified Good’s reworks are seemingly hard to come by these days so we’d suggest you give them a follow and keep a close eye on the releases.
Tory Van Thompsonhttps://www.instagram.com/toryvanthompson/
Tory Van Thompson’s work is a great example of something that feels familiar yet daring in a unique way. This workwear (and activewear) cut and sew designer’s reconstructed Dickies 874s are what he’s known for primarily. My personal favorites are the “Kamakura” reconstructed Dickies and 3M reconstructed Dickies (brown on brown).
There’s something charming about Needle Tip’s hand work. His seemingly Americana-inspired hand embroidery, reminds me of something you’d find on a garment in a rural hometown boutique but with the perfect amount of 90’s hip hop culture sprinkled in. The canvas for his reworks have a range, including Carhartt outerwear of all kinds, vintage tees and 90’s NBA snapbacks. The private commissioned piece he did called the “cowboy hoodie” goes especially hard but I would place the commissioned Zack Villere piece at a close second.
Cherry Kim fully embodies the ethos of a more sustainable future. As an artist she distill’s her narrative to the need for "slowing the cogs driving the industries that insist on rapid consumption.” Hell yeah, Cherry. Her signature depth of illustration (each pair taking around 15 hours) is what drew me in from the beginning. As she put it, her early designs “express a curiosity for domestic spaces and the furniture that allows us to exist comfortably in them.” Her illustrations are soft and welcoming, meshing beautifully with the ruggedness of the upcycled workwear she commonly uses as her canvas. Unsurprisingly, I discovered RHEE through the talented NYC-based photographer Chloe Horseman who shot an incredible lookbook for RHEE’s “Collection 002” which launched a few weeks back.
Boston-based Artist Pat “Bandulu” Peltier has made dozens of headlines in that last 12 months with his signature paint splatter hand embroidery style. The name Bandulu is a Jamaican patois term for bootleg gear, which speaks directly to the brands roots upcycling knitwear from brands like Champion and Nike with an embellished Swoosh reworking. 2019 was Bandulu’s big introduction to the masses when it landed a shoe collaboration with Nike and had one of its reworked hoodies spotted on Drake courtside at a Raptors playoff game.
There are countless brands and talented designers out there doing reworks and upcycling well, there’s really something for everyone out there. Next time you’re looking to add a new piece to the wardrobe give a rework brand a shot.