Home » Upcycling clothes in Asia: The dawn of an era of recreating
From trash to new, upcycling clothes has ushered the dawn of stringent profitable ventures in Asia. With people leaning toward sustainable solutions to reduce fashion waste, the traditional fashion supply chain was reimagined. Now, repurposing trash offers a unique business opportunity to entrepreneurs.
According to The State of Fashion 2022, over 80% of upcycled fashion brands in Asia are owned and managed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an estimated annual reach of $17 billion. This figure is expected to surge in the next five years, with growth that can exceed 50%.
Mainly, the supply chain for Asian clothing focuses on ethical sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, eco-friendly delivery, and circularity. Ethical sourcing includes strict supplier vetting and transparency through technology. Sustainable manufacturing adopts green practices like 3D printing.
Greg Petro, Forbes contributor and writer who focuses on investments.said
The trend of upcycled clothing industry
In 2021, the OEC, an online data visualization and distribution platform, estimated that 7 million tons of used clothes were imported into Asia, with the majority going to China, India, and Pakistan. These clothes are sorted, repaired, and upcycled into new products, such as quilts, blankets, and clothing.
Asia has become a significant hub for the upcycling of used clothes. At the forefront of the upcycled clothing industry are manufacturers, business owners, and shoppers who are becoming increasingly conscious of sustainable clothing wear.
Mai Ngo, a Vietnamese sustainable fashion model and vlogger.said
Localization of fashion supply chain management
Certain brands from across Asia have adopted the concept of upcycling. For example, LeBelik in Beirut, Lebanon is a fashion brand that uses upcycled fabric to create beautiful, sustainable clothing.
Meanwhile, in India, Doodlage works with skilled weavers to create unique products from discarded materials such as cotton, silk, and wool. Japan’s Tenbo is another brand that repurposes fabrics into stylish clothing items. The production of each of their garments involves special combination of traditional techniques and innovative designs.
Vivienne Tam, a Hong Kong-American fashion designer.said
Another example is Waste2Wear’s ethical sourcing practices. The company uses a blockchain-based platform to track the flow of materials throughout its supply chain, ensuring that all suppliers meet its high standards for sustainable solutions.
Sustainability and commercialization
Driven by the shift towards sustainability, the apparel sector came up with ways to ushering cost-efficiency. Of which, a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that upcycling a polyester garment saves 59% of the energy and 70% of the water used to produce a new polyester garment.
For example, the Hong Kong-based company Waste2Wear collects and recycles post-consumer textile waste, turning it into new, high-quality fibers and fabrics. These recycled materials are then used to produce various accessories and clothing, including t-shirts, sweaters, jeans, and jackets.
Meanwhile, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, approximately 40% of Chinese consumers are now looking for green clothing. In turn, businesses, such as China’s Sinopec Group aimed at repurposing products for reuse and selling.
On fashion supply chain management shift
Upcycling clothes is making waves across supply chains, business landscapes, and consumer markets. It’s a game-changer with compelling implications. In particular, upcycling has gained remarkable traction as a strategy to curtail the industry’s ecological footprint in the fashion and garments industry.
For supply chains, upcycling equals cost reduction and efficiency boost. Breathing new life into existing components and materials slashes production expenses while curbing waste disposal costs, ticking the sustainability box.
Moreover, eco-friendly delivery reduces carbon emissions and embraces circular distribution. Repurposing involves product design for disassembly, take-back programs, textile recycling, and sustainable solutions like upcycled clothing. Whilst, digital transformation optimizes production and reduces waste.
In turn, entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity. They’re crafting businesses around recycled goods, offering top-notch products at competitive prices. As such, upcycling clothing is about building eco-friendly brands that resonate with today’s environmentally conscious consumers.