Re-ware-ing (verb): To take something old that would have been discarded/dumped/sitting in a landfill and transform it into something new/different and re-usable. Synonyms: upcycling, ???.

Ecofriendly? (check), budget-friendly? (definitely check)

I thought I was brilliant – about 6 years ago I dreamed up this idea that I would launch a company with products made only out of re-cycled clothing. All I needed were some backers, some interns, and a hiatus from grad school (which was just starting…). I kept thinking: “I know there’s no one doing this! I will totally transform fashion consumption!” Oh yeah, I was wrong. LOTS of people were on the DIY/upcycling/reware-ing bandwagon before I even thought about it. But, maybe they didn’t have the clever name I came up with (yesss, clever clever): “ReWare.” No, not a typo. Not meant to be ReWear, but ReWare, so I could stretch it to other things besides just clothing. I envisioned my new ReWare empire, how we would turn every last thing from the thriftstore into something beautiful and new!!! Ok, well that didn’t happen… but 6 years later I’m slowly launching my own little ReWare line on Etsy, bit by bit. I’ve decided I still like the name ‘ReWare’ (even though apparently everyone else has decided to use that name now too) and I am totally on board with the ethos of it.

My general re-ware project starts with a trip to the thriftstore. You have to retrain your vision for re-ware. It’s not about what something already is, but what it has the potential to become. One of my favorite things to upcycle is the basic plaid wool skirt. You know, the old Pendleton skirts that your elementary school librarian wore? Or at least my librarian grandmother did… Discarded, slightly frumpy, lumpy, pleated to excess, but oh so much fabric and beautiful plaid lines! After a good wash, I spend a little quality time with a seam ripper and an iron on steam setting and…VOILA! A beautiful stretch of wool begging to be made into something new. My first project with an old skirt was a sweet little jacket with a sailor collar. I was hooked, more jackets (including one I wear every day in the fall), then a few capelets and some scarves. Then I started making cuffs. Glorious cuffs! They are so versatile and fun…I will fill the world with cuffs.

Need a little inspiration for what you can do with old clothes? One of my new favorite stores on Etsy does totally upcycled things like really cute hats and bags:

For wikipedia’s rather dry entry on “upcycling,” look here (and maybe spice it up a bit if you are so inspired):

Shameless plug (well, it’s my blog isn’t it?) for my new fun cuffs made out of an old wool skirt that caught my eye at Goodwill:

And here they are on Etsy…

So go forth and reware away! Better yet, tell me what fun projects you’ve made from re-ware-ing. I love being amazed by human creative power!