Text: "MakeItNew"

The ghosts of denim past: talking upcycling with F&F

We teamed up with Tesco’s fashion brand F&F for the #MakeItNew upcycling challenge.

During the challenge, four fashion bloggers were given the chance to learn about upcycling.  We asked Dani Baker from F&F how it came about and how it all went. 

What was the idea behind #MakeItNew, and why did you want to involve Love Your Clothes?

We all have clothing tucked away in our wardrobe that we no longer wear because either it's in need of repair, out of style, or maybe we feel we wear it too often. #MakeItNew is all about revamping those products, and having fun while you do it!

We knew Love Your Clothes would be the perfect partner for this campaign as they were already doing so much to raise awareness of how customers can customise or revamp their wardrobe.

The four bloggers taking part are known for fashion and lifestyle blogging, not "sustainable fashion". Was that deliberate?

The four bloggers in our sustainability squad may be best known for their fashion blogging credentials but they all have a passion for fashion with heart. We paired up with Dunya (@dearestdeer_) who has fashion ethical values working for Amnesty International when she's not blogging, Kristabel (@iamkristabel) a keen knitter who also helps to run the Bloggers Market selling on unwanted clothes to new home while Amelia (@xameliax) and Sabrina (@sabrinalovesyou) both share a real love of craft and DIY. We hope that these girls can inspire EVERYONE, and not just for those that already know how to sew! That's why we worked with people that didn't have the know-how but wanted to do their own little bit for sustainable fashion.

What did you ask them to do and how did they get on?

Each of the bloggers swapped an old item of clothing with another blogger and were tasked with coming up with some stylish yet simple ways to transform them into something wearable. They had some really creative ideas from the start, and their upcycles covered everything from embroidery, cropping, adding sequin detail and turning jeans into shorts. All of the girls were really keen to get stuck in and help breathe new life into the clothes.

When they swapped them back, some of the items were almost unrecognisable! One surprise we had was a crop one of the girls did on a wraparound dress. Beforehand, the dress had been quite frumpy and baggy, but cropping it completely changed the shape – it was so much more fitted and we couldn't believe the difference from such a simple technique.

What response have you had from the public?

We've been overwhelmed by fashion fans’ response to upcycling: across the campaign we had 500k views (26% of which were completed). People felt most inspired to see how to upcycle a pair of old denim jeans... seems we've all got the ghosts of denim past in our wardrobe. The overall message the public shared with us about #MakeItNew was that they loved the challenge and wanted to get involved themselves.

And what message do you have for people wanting to give it a go?

We hope that by following the #MakeItNew journey from start to finish you've seen that taking on upcycling on your own wardrobe can be simple, fun and bring an old fave back to life!

How does this tie in with your role as a fashion retailer? If everyone upcycled you wouldn't sell any new F&F clothes!

We know we have great quality products that will last and so we want to make sure our customers are donating F&F products they no longer wear to charity, or if they have a product they no longer wear but want to keep that they know they can upcycle it.

We aren't telling people "don't buy anything new": we all love to go shopping and treat ourselves. But we also want to make sure our customer (or charities) are making the most out of their wardrobe!

At the same time as the #MakeItNew project, you're running donation stations again for Cancer Research UK. What's the connection between the two initiatives?

Yes, that's right, we've been working with Cancer Research since 2009 and we donate our unsold products in the UK to the charity (we've raised over £6 million). We would love for our customers to donate their pre-loved clothing to Cancer Research and we've made it really easy by hosting donation stations in 102 stores. We know many of us have those pieces hiding right at the back of our wardrobes that with all the upcycling knowledge in the world, we may not be able to revamp into something that we can wear again due to the size or type of garment. That's when being able to donate your item to Cancer Research and let it live a second happy life (while doing something that helps the cause!) is so important.

What's F&F's top tip for Loving Your Clothes?

Visit your local haberdashery and find something you love – pompoms, embroidery, lace – and add it to a top you no longer wear or pair of jeans! And a nice simple one – when your favourite jumper has collected bobbles, use a razor to take them off.

Find out more

Read more about the #MakeItNew challenge on Storify.

The four bloggers taking part in the challenge.