We’ve seen upcycled T-shirts and jeans aplenty, but nothing like Stacy J. Lee’s artful reinterpretation of that consummate American ensemble. The New York-based designer’s latest collection, “Re(-)creation,” comprises one-of-a-kind hand-knit accessories, sweaters and dresses made entirely of discarded, damaged, or sample garments. But the eye-popping, versatile pieces, which literally transform in some cases, are far from ordinary.


Lee didn’t encounter any resistance when she asked local designers and apparel companies for clothing donations, although her requests did raise eyebrows. “They were curious and a bit suspicious as to why I would need all of these clothes,” she tells Ecouterre. “But once they saw my work in progress, they were more than happy to donate their discarded clothes.” In fact, some of the clothing had been sitting in storage for more than 10 years, Lee adds.

Some of the donated garments Lee used had sat in storage for over 10 years.

Along with a yen for sustainability, Lee also has an eye for fit and design—all of her pieces drape perfectly on the body. Several “transformer” pieces fulfill multiple functions, including a jumpsuit that morphs into a sweater and a dress that you can throw on as a shirt.

The Parsons School of Design graduate envisions her work as a way of showing people the future of fashion. Upcycling may not be the only way to green the industry but eliminating waste from our landfills is a fine start.

+ Stacy J. Lee