In case you haven’t noticed, upcycled clothing has earned a considerable place in current fashion. Upcycled fashion is all about creating something new from old articles of clothing. A lot of times, upcycling also seeks to improve upon the use of the original garment. It sounds simple but the truth is creating new clothes out of existing materials requires excellent sewing skills, creative vision and the knowledge to dye, hand-paint or distress garments. Making holes in your skinny jeans doesn’t really count once you realize how much work and talent goes into upcycled clothing. Often, but not a requirement, being eco-conscious or a resistance to mass-produced fast fashion plays a part in upcycling. Whether it’s thrift, vintage, DIY, distressed or destroyed, upcycled fashion has something for everybody. Now, the last thing we want is for you to spend $400 on jeans distressed with fake mud. Instead, check out local designers who often give new life to garments and here’s a few ideas on how to wear them. 

(Re)formal & Casual

A blend of formal and casual always gives off a subtle statement that you do whatever you want. Bending rules in fashion is something that comes natural to you. Take a pair of slacks and heels that you’d wear to work and have fun with other items that would usually be formal, such as this vest by Missy Blake. Blake recycles and reimagines clothing. Feel like adding on layers? This Rebellelion jacket brings formal with fur but casual with flowers. Lastly, let Atomic Sean’s jewelry give new meaning to the statement necklace. Sean makes spectacular jewelry out of found materials.

Streetwear Cool

Are you the type of person who wouldn’t be caught dead in a corporate office? We can definitely vibe with that. The denim jacket is currently having its moment in streetwear, and patches and rips are the norm. Drive your nod to grunge home with a re-imagined plaid and have fun with fringe on your pants (as well as the jacket). Madelyn May at Rebellelion believes fashion should be affordable and accessible to everyone. Everything out of Rebellelion is recycled, handmade and treasure hunted, gathered from thrift or vintage stores, attics and garage sales, alleyways and craigslist.

High Fashion

You think upcycled can’t be synonymous with Haute Couture? Think again. Take inspiration from your favorite editorials and go high fashion with a full denim getup by Jeremy Willard. Sometimes, Willard makes garments out of thrifted fabrics (or fabrics that catch his eye). In this particular case, the denim below isn’t from a thrift store but everything you see has been added on, from the zippers to the pattern that was hand-painted. Willard’s garments are for the fashion forward that aren’t afraid to stand out. This outfit wouldn’t be complete with another statement necklace by Atomic Sean that has as much personality as the clothes. Strut your stuff and wear this high fashion look with all the confidence we know you have.

Dapper and Urban

Remember we talked about mixing styles? We’re going for the masculine twist. Dapper doesn’t mean you have to be boring and neat. At the same time, streetwear doesn’t mean it can’t be buttoned up either. Go with a classic urban vibe but polish it up. Take a custom bomber jacket or eye-popping denim jacket and keep the rest of the outfit simple with white jeans, converse and a t-shirt. Streetwear pieces from Slim’s Retro Retail will blow your mind. The jackets pictured here are custom pieces of art. Lastly, a hand-dyed Jeremy Willard backpack and a unique necklace by Atomic Sean will only add to your outfit.

Do you feel your wheels turning? Whether you take our advice or you want to branch out on your own, check out the designers who bring immense talent and creativity to clothes in ways you didn’t think was possible. And remember, have fun!

All photography by Demi Deherrera

 Fashion Stylist: Aaron Rodriguez

Models: Mason Doubleday, Katie Etcheverry