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Upcycling Fashion

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Creative skills | From 14 years | 180 minutes
My voice against disposable fashion
In this project, young people deal with fashion as disposable goods. They reflect on their own consumer behavior and test possibilities of upcycling old clothes.
Starting with a questionnaire, young people reflect on their own consumption habits. They think about the production conditions in the textile industry and the associated mentality that everything is disposable. Through the creative “upcycling”, they learn how to turn their own clothes into new fashion items with just a few resources. The aim is for the young people to develop their own alternatives to unreflected consumer behavior and sensitize them to sustainability.
The goal of the project “Upcycling Fashion—My voice against disposable fashion” is the way to a reflective consumer behavior among young people and the creation of a consciousness for sustainable consumption.
Project procedure

The starting point is a survey on young people’s consumer behavior. Following from this, background information on production conditions in the textile industry and the consumer society’s mentality that everything is disposable will be developed. A critical reflection and discussion takes place under the guiding question of whether disposable fashion should be boycotted. The young people then try out simple strategies with their own clothes, which they no longer wear, to embellish them and make “slow fashion” out of “fast fashion”.

The creative working process is documented with photography. The newly created clothes are presented to an audience in the form of a fashion show, which celebrates special results with a contest. The previously documented work steps are processed as digital instructions and made available on an online platform. Finally, a period of reflection takes place in order to find out to what extent the project has led to a rethinking of one’s own and future consumer behavior.

The young people receive a questionnaire which they complete. Possible components of the questionnaire can be:

– I usually shop online/I usually go shopping in shops.
– I buy new clothes weekly/monthly.
– I go shopping when I really need something.
– I just shop because it’s fun and I like to have a lot of choice.
– While shopping I am inspired by fashion blogs/catalogues/advertisements.
– My clothes always follow the latest trends.
– I don’t care about the quality of clothes, as long as the price is right.

The young people thus reflect on their own experiences and attitudes towards the topic. The results of the survey are then visualized and discussed in a diagram.
Recording results: Questionnaire/graph
Social form: work/plenary
In group work, the young people gain insights into the dark side of so-called “fast fashion”. With the help of texts, they work out social grievances in textile production and aspects of the throwaway mentality in consumer society. On the basis of this information, the young people gain a point of view which they then present in a discussion on the question: “Should disposable clothing be boycotted?”
Recording results: Discussion
Social form: Group work, plenary
In groups they try out creative ways in which clothes that are no longer worn can be turned into new fashion. They are inspired by internet research and various sources (see link collections, platforms such as Pinterest etc.). The work steps as well as a before-after comparison are photographed. The new clothes will be presented in the form of a fashion show and a winner will be chosen by the audience.
Recording results: Fashion show/contest
Social form: Group work
Finally, it will be clarified to what extent the project has led to a change in consumer awareness among young people and will change their consumption patterns in the future. A period of reflection takes place for this purpose. Possible components can be:
- I shop just like before the project.
- I am going to change my shopping behavior and become more conscious.
- I will pay more attention to the origin of textiles.
- From now on I will try to upcycle old clothes.
Recording results: Graph
Social form: Single work/class discussion

In order to make a lasting contribution, the young people should share their experiences and tips with others. With the help of the photographically documented work steps from the previous working phase, the young people can design their own Do-It-Yourself instructions for the upcycling of clothes. These can be collected and made available on an online platform, such as a Pinterest pin-board.

It is also a good idea to offer a clothing exchange fair or workshops for upcycling organized by the young people.
The project is not only intended to clarify one’s own consumer behavior, but also to raise awareness of the consequences for the textile industry. The aim is to draw young people’s attention to their responsibility, which they also share in the role of consumers.


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