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Fashion sense

For me it was Winkle Pickers. There I stood, not long liberated from a childhood which had its feet firmly rooted in Clarkes, cramming my toes into these most desirable and yet extremely uncomfortable early 80s fashion essentials. Only to be assured by my mother that shed seen (and done) it all before.

But thats the fickle world of fashion for you. Fashions come go and then come again. And this years über cool vintage look means that fashions (and clothes) once cast aside and deemed past their sell by date are getting a second airing. For those who hang on to their old klobber, the outlook is good. A quick rummage through the loft could bring to light a tea dress to die for. Or perhaps, heavens above, an original poncho.

But modern culture and aggressive high street marketing mean that most people abandon their outdated clothes even faster than they change their mobile phones. True fashionistas (thats industry speak for someone who knows a Stella McCartney from a Coco de la Mer) delight in being ahead of the game.


Throw away fashions, although the antithesis of the recycling culture, provide the raw materials of the textile recycler. And this seasons penchant for all things vintage and retro may just provide those working in this much maligned industry with the first good news for quite some time. And while its unlikely that recyclers will happen across a delicate pair of round-toed stilettos or a pair of beautifully maintained stack healed boots both key autumn must-haves, Im told they might find that their raw materials are suitable for the burgeoning re-designing market.

The concept of re-working and re-designing clothes isnt as far fetched as it sounds; Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development (TRAID), the fashion recycling charity, launched its customised label, TRAID Remade, in 2001. In just three years the organisation has developed an extensive network of freelance designers who customise recycled clothes, making them into new, one-off items that have just as much, if not more, appeal than the original. The designs are sold in TRAID shops in Brighton and London.

Proof that TRAID Remade has made its mark on the fashion industry is the recent announcement that it is to supply an exclusive range of womenswear for the hip Urban Outfitters stores in London, Dublin and Glasgow. With more than 270 stores, mainly in the US, Urban Outfitters is a favourite of many of the fashion magazines think Gap but more edgy. Linking up with such a major organisation is a major coup for the likes of TRAID.


We are delighted to be working in partnership with this high street store, says Maria Chenoweth, TRAIDs chief executive. This demonstrates our mission to promote innovation in recycling and through this raise funds for creative projects overseas which benefit children and young people.

Much of TRAID Remades success must be attributed to its band of young designers, all of whom know their market and have an excellent understanding of how to get the best from the raw materials second time around. Mark Lawson is just one of the organisations freelance designers, supplying innovative sweatshirts, t-shirts and jackets for the menswear ranges.

Ive always loved clothes. I grew up watching my mum make her own designs, so I suppose its in the blood, he says. Working with his partner Paula Kirkwood, the couple take batches of clothes from TRAIDs warehouse in Wembley and re-design them into one-off pieces. Pinstripe jackets are big sellers at the moment and obviously tweed is too. One of Marks most popular customisations is to take a traditional jacket, remove the buttons, and put a diagonal zip into the lapel. Hes been making approximately 10 of these a week for the last eight months and at £55 they sell out as soon as they reach the shop.The key is to work with good quality materials, and the UKs high street offers excellent quality at a reasonable price.

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