Upcycling – Bang on trend

Attractive fashion doesn't always have to come from major clothing chains or expensive designer brands – a fact that two young fashion designers from Stuttgart are demonstrating with their label “Wiederbelebt” (meaning “revived” or “resurrected”). Their brand is a complete pioneer in the field of upcycling.

Oguzhan Deniz and Sarah Kürten set up their passion project “Wiederbelebt” in early 2016. The idea did not spring up overnight. Rather, it was a logical development of Sarah's bachelor's thesis and her distressing experiences while traveling in low-wage countries.

“Our standard is fair and sustainable. That means we not only look at environmentally friendly components, but at fair working conditions as well. Our production facilities are based directly in Stuttgart and that's where they'll stay in future, too. Relocating to countries with lower production costs, like Eastern Europe for example, is not an option for us. Our vision is to show that clothes can be produced sustainably while also being beautiful and modern. We would like people to appreciate clothing more in general,”

says Oguzhan, describing the vision behind his brand.

The vision

The two of them gained their expertise partly from their degrees in Fashion Design and Management, and Textile Technology and Management. They also had several years of professional experience, which provided them with relevant insight. Ultimately this led to them wanting to do a few things differently and take a clear stance: Production lines in low-wage countries? No thanks! Growth? Yes, please, but not at the cost of the environment.

The founders Sarah Kürten and Oguzhan Deniz

Dead stock brought back to life

The items of clothing sold by Wiederbelebt are created by means of upcycling. For this, they use something known as “dead stocks”, excess industrial products. In addition to the fabrics, this also includes haberdashery items, such as buttons, etc. Unlike with recycling, the purchased greige goods are reused in their original form. In contrast, the recycling process creates or weaves new fabrics using a great deal of water and energy. It is not always easy to produce according to these principles:The challenges lie in the design and pattern development because it sometimes is not clear which fabrics are available and in what quantity and whether the haberdashery items we have will go with them. However, things have leveled out well in recent years,” explains Oguzhan. Three to five new models a month show that things are working well.

The appeal of the extra special

The small store in the heart of Stuttgart exudes its own unique flair. To know that the items of clothing in the store are produced in the production facilities right next door creates a personal feeling and one of trust. The production facilities have the air of a traditional manufactory. What's more, lots of the items here come hearts and minds, as Oguzhan confirms: “We forego all complicated trend research. A large part of our inspiration for new pieces comes from our own designer brains. When paired with aspects from the latest fashion shows and elements of fast fashion, we create trendy cuts with our own unique style.
And the fashion by Wiederbelebt is made even more attractive by the clear conscience you get when buying one of their pieces. If you're quick enough, you could get your hands on one of the just 50 units of each item.

Are you keen on making your wardrobe more sustainable and trying sustainable sewing at home? Here are Oguzhan's tips:

  1. Shop second-hand.
  2. Look for brands who produce locally.
  3. Buy less and think about what you really need !
  4. Sew your favorite pieces yourself !
  5. Reuse any fabric leftover from your home sewing projects to create hair bands or pimp up other items of clothing (e.g. denim jackets).
  6. Look out for quality standards when buying fabric (e.g. ÖkoTex Standard 100 or GOTS) and always research their relevance !
  7. If possible, buy fabrics that haven't traveled long distances and have been produced in countries with high standards.

Image rights: wiederbelebt