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Sustainable Spotlight: One Artist Driving The Upcycled Fashion Movement

It is a widely known fact that the fashion industry is as one of the main contributors to climate change and unethical production. Quoted by UK Parliament in a 2019 report:

"Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution. Synthetic fibres are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish."

The 2030 Sustainable Development Plan set out by the United Nations in 2015 draws focus on the steps we must take as a society to ensure a peaceful and more ethical future for all. With 17 goals in total, it stresses the importance of Responsible Consumption and Production is its 12th goal in the plan to sustain the livelihoods of current and future generations:

"Governments and all citizens should work together to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and pollution, and shape a new circular economy."

Ways in which we can push for ethical consumption and production within fashion includes:

  • Upcycling

  • Purchasing less and Reusing

  • Stop viewing fashion as time centred and disposable

But how does this link to the fashion image?

The industry has been under intense scrutiny over the last few years as societal demand for sustainability has increased. The consumer seems to be much more aware of the conscious choices they are making in terms of consumption and how it can affect the wider environment and society. If a piece of clothing catches my eye in a window or on an ad, nowadays I head straight over to Vinted to give something similar but second-hand a new lease of life. It seems this mindset has situated itself strongly within the industry as the consumer's support of ethical buying has forced brands to cater their practices to suit. Although the industry itself often finds itself tainted by greenwashing, the fashion image has started to lean towards this more raw and honest depiction of fashion that feels 'DIY' and relatable; there are particular creatives situated within it that push a DIY fashion image and the idea that something can be created out of nothing: who said fashion can't be created out of everyday materials.

Maya golyshkina certainly didn't

Maya Golyshkina is a Russian-born, now London-based, image maker and prop designer, and one of the driving forces in the industry for an upcycled fashion image. Constructing outfits out of found objects such as cigarette boxes and newspaper pages, Golyshkina uses her creative ability and art direction to promote sustainable practice. As a strong advocate for upcycling and incorporates this practice into her fashion designs; through the use of satire and the power of a glue gun, she creates this wearable art that can be viewed for years without going out of fashion - her DIY creations don't belong to any trend a don't instil this need to consume new pieces, pushing towards a more sustainable means of consumption. Her work has caught the attention of big brands such as Marc Jacobs, who approached Maya to shoot and style some upcycled fashion for one of their campaigns bringing a message of upcycling into the world of luxury fashion.

After being picked up by the luxury brand due to the attention found through social media and her Instagram following of over 21k, in an interview with Metal Magazine, the artist and image maker highlights the importance of platforms such as Instagram in pushing back at big brands and giving a voice to creatives encouraging the idea of upcycled fashion and reusing.

"I think it's a very cool platform."

Make do with what you've got

If there's one thing to take away from the influential force of Maya Golyshkina and this newfound spotlight on upcycling the fashion image has seemed to adopt, it is that if someone can create a dress out of kitchen utensils or cardboard and make it feel almost editorial, you can definitely find a way to rework an existing garment in your wardrobe and drive down consumption and unethical production, helping push towards a more sustainable future.


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