I saw a fascinating feature today on Preloved, a company in Toronto that recycles vintage sweaters, pants and other items and transform them into one-of-a-kind designs. The company has been around since 1995 and sells their products at small stores all over North America. They have three different product lines: Preloved, Handcut and BLoved. Preloved combines used and new fabrics, Handcut is made of 100% used fabrics and BLoved is made with all new fabrics (the clothing from this line is more simple in design and meant to compliment the clothing from the other lines).
Redesigned vintage clothing is a great idea, because, while you might be able to find some decent clothes at goodwill, most of the clothes could use a "nip/tuck" to bring them up to date.
The best thing about this concept is that with a little sewing knowledge, you can begin replicating their ideas yourself. On the show (Three Takes, which is on Slice in Canada--I don't think it's shown in the U.S.) the designer and founder of the company showed how, using a very simple tank top pattern, you can turn an old sweater into a cute vest. One thing that was key was turning the sweater upside down so that the old "bottom" could be used as a neckline or for the sleeves (you can see this technique being used int the sweater pictured above).
There are a lot of great articles all over the internet about how to recycle your used clothing. I see so many people on the streets every day that have found ingenious ways of recycling old tees (it was quite a trend a couple of years ago). Teens, in particular, really love the opportunity to take part in the design of their clothing. Overall, I think the popularity of companies like Preloved and others is a real sign of people's desire for new choices as consumers (and producers!). People seem to relish the innovation required in order to make use of vintage clothing items--and if they don't have time to do it themselve, many are choosing to purchase items from companies like Preloved. Jennifer Welch, owner of Virginia Wells, a San Francisco-based vintage clothing store, recently made the connection between her business and a growing Arts and Crafts movment in an interview with Green Living Online :
"In the late 19th century, the Arts and Crafts movement was a backlash against
the mass production that had come about after the Industrial Revolution. Today,
with increased technology and globalization, people want more integrity,
simplicity and utility - we yearn for grass-roots accessibility and to see
the individual instead of the advertising
William Morris always argued that people need to play an active role in the creative process in order to feel fulfilled as artists and human beings. I think the popularity of redesigned clothing is definitly a sign of this.