Coloured swatches of fabric.

From castaway to catwalk

All of us are guilty of it – well most of us. How many of you throw away old clothes once you’ve outgrown them?

Quite a lot of you apparently!

It’s estimated that £140 million worth (350,000 tonnes) of used clothes end up in landfill each year, which is over 30% of our wardrobes.

In an effort to combat this, we teamed up with The Salvation Army and launched a nationwide hunt for the best ethical fashion & textile designers.

The competition will challenge the designers to choose 150 kilos of old garments from five tonnes of clothes, donated by The Salvation Army, and undertake a special 12 week project – to turn them from castaways to catwalk!

Competition winners, from left to right, Maxine Dickson & Jemma Wood from Black Cherry Studio, and printed textiles specialist Aimee Kent.

After battling off some tough competition, we selected two joint winners. The first; Aimee Kent, is a printed textiles specialist who has worked previously with Henrietta Ludgate, Olanic and Niki Taylor from The Top Project. The second joint winners are owners of Black Cherry Studio Maxine Dickson & Jemma Wood, who have worked with and supplied to Kookai, Jacques De Vert and Primark.

Our fashionistas have just 12 weeks to turn these old garments into a ‘fashion forward’ collection before presenting them to a panel of experts in March 2016. The panel, which will be made up of a variety of figures hailing from the fashion world, will judge the collections and give them an expected retail value.

Of her upcoming challenge, joint winner Jemma Wood said she was blown away by the upcoming challenge and she can’t wait to get started. The Black Cherry designers specialise in textile print and hope to show people that with a little creativity you can turn unwanted into desirable.

Maxine Dickson left, and Jemma Wood, right pose with their 150 kilos of unwanted garments.

Joint winner Aimee Kent wants to create a collection that can be worn again and again and never goes out of style. She already runs a sustainable surface pattern design which focuses on the re-use of materials.

Aimee Kent poses with some of her 150 kilos of unwanted garments.

The competition has been designed to raise awareness for how important it is to upcycle your old clothes before you throw them away.

If you’ve been inspired by our designers' challenge and want to try some wardrobe revamping yourself, our textiles expert Lynn Wilson has devised a simple, easy way to remember to UPCYCLE:

U – Update. If your wardrobe is in need of an update, rather than throw away your old clothes and blowing the budget replacing them, think about how you can update your old ones.

P – Preserve. It’s vital you look after and preserve the clothes you’ve currently got. By giving them some TLC and following the washing instructions properly you can make them last longer.

C – Collection. You may need to add some bits of fabric here and there to your old items to spruce them up. Dig through your collection and see what you can repurpose.

Y – Yank. Yank off that excess material and create a whole new shape, for example turn a floor length dress into a crop and skirt or turn a long sleeve top into a vest.

C – Customise. It’s important you add your own stamp to your own newly reworked garment. So customise it to your own individual style for a garment that’s truly a one of a kind masterpiece.

L – Love. Once your garment is complete; love it like a brand new piece of clothing and look after it. Your garments might not be able to thank you for it, but your bank account will.

E – Enjoy. You have put a lot of hard work into creating your new garment, so don’t forget to enjoy it, fashion should be fun!