Repurposed with Purpose
Written by Threads Influencer, Ayesha Saleem | @ayeshabydesign
My closet consists of more articles of clothing than an average size department store. Working Downtown, it’s super convenient to spend my lunch break browsing retail stores oftentimes resulting in me buying clothes I don’t actually need. I don’t have an inventory of what I currently own and my shopping habits were quickly becoming perennial. This was not only a problem for my closet space and wallet, but also for the environment and the planet we live on.
With the shelter in place order, I finally had the chance to slow down and address the mess that is my closet. Scrolling through Instagram, I was inspired by fashion icons’ passionate call to actions around repurposing and thrifting clothes in an effort to slow down environmental damage. In particular, Detroit based designer, Shakira Khanam’s (@ShakiraKhanam) efforts to help slow down fast fashion by inspiring Detroiters to reuse textiles and make new clothing pieces out of old ones inspired me to follow suit.
Shakira has 2 main principles when it comes to upcycling clothes. Firstly, she recommends the Marie Kondo method of only keeping things that bring you joy and are staple pieces that can be styled in various ways. Every piece of clothing that doesn’t spark joy in you should be donated or recycled. As a self-diagnosed hoarder, this felt completely unnecessary. However, after donating 3 large trash bags full of clothes, I felt like an invisible weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Too many choices can be paralyzing; limiting the number of pieces I own allowed me to fully understand what I was working with and led to more creative outfit ideas.
Shakira’s second principle, upcycling unwanted products into new ones, is something she says is intrinsically Detroit. She explained to me that Detroit as a city is constantly being reinvented and repurposed. “Take the Leeland for example,” Shakira explains. “It used to be just a hotel and now it’s also an underground goth club. The people took something that existed and redefined it which is what I’m aiming to do with my clothing creations.
Inspired by Shakira and her call to action to Detroit based fashion enthusiasts, I began upcycling my own closet. I cut oversized hoodies to fit better and used the leftover cloth scrap to create workout headbands. I’ve even been able to upcycle a pair of pants into a wrap top, which for someone with no sewing skills like me is quite a great feat.
If you’re looking for ways to upcycle your clothing here are some tips I have for you:
- Never throw away textiles. Extra fabric can be used to create hair accessories and even to sew pockets onto all those pocketless dresses you already own.
- You don’t need to know how to sew. Wrapping is a no-sew technique that can achieve the same results.
- If you really don’t know what to do with a piece of clothing, consider throwing a clothing swap party with some of your friends. This is a great way to change up your closet while remaining environmentally friendly