A pair of Scottish designers have transformed used clothing from one of the United Kingdom’s top clothing recyclers into a couture collection that challenges our ideas of waste. The looks are the work of Aimee Kent and Black Cherry Studio, who spent 12 weeks rifling through the Salvation Army warehouse as part of a residency with Zero Waste Scotland, an initiative works with local businesses and communities to use resources sustainably, and Love Your Clothes, part of the Waste & Resources Action Programme. The twin ranges, which are estimated by experts to be worth at least an £4,000 ($5,684) each, made their debut last week at the charity’s flagship store in Dumbarton Road in Glasgow, where they were modeled by former Miss Scotland and Miss United Kingdom Nicola Mimnagh.
The aim of project, says Zero Waste Scotland, was to remind people to see the value in clothing, no matter how worn.
“All textiles have a value and can be used again and again,” Lynn Wilson, textiles manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said in a statement. “Clothing should never be put in the general waste bin and I believe our talented designers have spectacularly proved with this chic collection, inspired by the Salvation Army, that there’s an inherent value in clothing—and if you’re finished with it, someone else can use it!”
Kent and Black Cherry Studio’s Jemma Wood, who both specialize in printed textiles, used their expertise to inform their collections.
Kent said she was inspired architectural facades of the Salvation Army’s New York headquarters, along with retro Salvation Army logos and graphics.
“Using inspiration from the art-deco features, I created hand drawn artwork which was then transformed into repeat patterns and placement prints,” she said. “All of the garments, panelling and embroidered details are inspired by the symmetrical geometric art deco structures.”
Likewise Wood wanted print to be the main focus of her repurposed garments.
“Ours is a mix of simply adding prints to an existing garment to completely deconstructing an item and making it into a useable accessory to give it a whole new lease of life,” she said. “We wanted to demonstrate how simple and easy it can be to transform an already existing item into something new and wearable again.”
Catherine Hamou from the Salvation Army emphasized how vital it is to extend the lives of our textiles.
“The simple acts of donating your unwanted items to charity and buying from our charity shops, means you’re helping us raise millions of pounds each year for extremely vulnerable people in the U.K.,” she said. “Not only that, donating your old items helps prevent them going to landfill, and repurposing second-hand clothes—rather than continually buying new ones—begins to change the cycle of disposable fashion. The social and monetary value goes on and on.”
Proceeds from the sales of the pieces, which can be viewed at the project’s Pinterest page, will be shared between the designers and the Salvation Army.