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Upcycling: Mills Turning Old Clothes Into New Fabrics

Textile upcycling is when a mill creates a fabric of higher quality or value than the original cloth, which is broken down to create the new. Pioneering this version of recycling, here are three mills offering three very different types of fabric upcycling.


Located in Normandy in the north of France, U-Clife is the first textile maker of its kind to physically “edit” used fabrics—making them fashionable and useable once more. The firm rallies together tons of clothing from across the globe and selects the most appropriate discarded cloth to rework into patchworks that are on trend.

This method of upcycling looks like a specific chain of events for U-Clife: beginning with the supplier of used clothes, which are then sorted, cut into workable portions and then sewn together as patchworks fabrics for the home, accessories and fashion collections.

Phillips Shirts

Available on Le Souk, the brick-patterned heavy denim fabric comes in multiple shades of indigo and is made both in France and Tunisia from 100% cotton Another standout fabric is the recycled cotton army print in macro-patches of camouflage for a statement military inspired overcoat for men.

Based in the cultural city of Melbourne, Australian textile merchant and shirting connoisseur, Phillips Shirts has been sourcing and making shirting from new and vintage fabrics for almost sixty years. This factory is one of the last remaining shirt manufacturers in Australia and is still considered to be one of the best in the country. In conjunction to the masculinely crafted business and formal button-downs, the shop boasts a “Phillips Vintage” line.

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It’s a collection of unworn garments in pristine condition that date from the 1960s to the 1980s. This type of preservation of fashion and bringing it into the modern men’s wear world is a different type of upcycling, in the the clothes are kept relatively in their original state, with a bit of structural tweaking.

But nonetheless, this type of fashion works to sustain the environment without having to use water and chemicals for the production of new shirting cloth. Designers can buy the ready-made vintage apparel via the Phillip Shirts online store.

Available on Le Souk, Phillips Shirts offers traditional shirting fabrics sourced from mills in Italy and London.

Located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, EcoSimple began its journey in 2004, producing intricate, innovative fabrics made from recycled plastic and material remnants from large, industrial textile mills.

Many of EcoSimple’s fabrics are a blend of recycled cotton and RPET, which is made from plastic bottles. These fabrics are available in a rich assortment of hues, and seamlessly combine beauty and functionality while supporting environmentally- and socially-responsible business practices.

Mixing the yarn derived bottles with yarn made form old clothes is the latest type of upcycling to hit the textile industry; attacking the problems of both excess plastic in the environment as well as the immense amount of textile waste accrued by large mills.

Available on Le Souk, the South American mill offers a rich range of tweeds in the boldest colors and natural hues for jackets and pants. Check out the aztec print range for a touch of ethnicity, made from recycled polyester yarn (from old clothes) and cotton.

By Benjamin Fitzgerald

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