Upcycling Nyx and Aphrodite.

Although our production process takes months of planning, fitting, sampling and more: disasters of The-devil-wears-Prada-like proportions still ensue. At least, that’s what happened to our Cupid pants, which were accidentally stitched with a blunt needle and tore around the crotch. Surprise crotch-holes might be sexy, but they don’t signify the high and durable quality we want to offer you. Although we couldn’t sell the pants, we couldn’t throw them away either. As part of an industry whose impact on the climate crisis has become painfully obvious, what’s the most sustainable way to deal with creations-gone-wrong?

In the fashion industry, this happens more than you might think, with brands’ common response to incinerate or throw away the flawed items and simply produce a new batch. The industry produces a lot of clothes: between 100 and 150 billion items yearly — roughly translating to 16 pieces per person on this planet. As the top models of countless Instagram posts and stories, most of us have an understandable appetite for new, on-trend clothes. Brands then keep driving that demand by endlessly overproducing new items. But this vicious cycle of newness means that of those billions of clothes, some 87% ends up being burned or dumped. That’s like one garbage truck of textiles being burned or tossed every second. A post-festival field littered with plastic cups and straws and baggies doesn’t even begin to compare.

“In Asia and India the rivers change colour after fashion’s seasons. For example, you can see the colour purple is in fashion because the rivers turn purple.” - Lotje 

 tie dye tube top mini skirt set TITS

In short: the industry is destructive, in many senses of the word. But there are exceptions. Lotje Terra is the co-founder of BORO Atelier, offering production, upcycling and natural textile dying as a social and sustainable alternative to the current system. Lotje explains: “At some point, clothing became significantly cheaper, motivating people to buy a lot of it. Simultaneously, the quality declined, which only amplified the demand for new clothes.” The environmental impact of this careless production and consumption is hard to ignore: “In Asia and India the rivers change colour after fashion’s seasons. For example, you can see the colour purple is in fashion because the rivers turn purple.”

Since we’re keen on not turning the rivers purple (or in our case, a cocktail of lavender and lime), our crotch-holed-pants issue required a more sustainable solution. We’d been toying with the idea of making skirts and tops out of the same tie-dyed material. So when we suddenly had boxes of that material stacked up in our office like a wobbly tower of Pisa made from defect pants, upcycling seemed like the way to go. “The benefit of upcycling is that you turn something old into something with fresh value:” explains Lotje. So, we teamed up with BORO Atelier, creating a Nyx top and Aphrodite skirt set out of every pair of defective Cupid pants. Lotje gives us an insight into the upcycling process: “We started out by sampling, defining how we could use the material of the pants as efficiently possible, so little material was wasted. Then, we cut the pattern parts out of the pants and started sewing.” A keen and fashionable observer could even spot aspects of the pants that remained intact in the top and skirt. What used to be a hem now functions as an asymmetrical strap, keeping the tube top in place. The waistband of the trousers remains the waistband of the skirt, with the embroidered ‘TITS’ logo still cheekily appearing on the back.

“you can’t change the world on your own. Find a medium that suits you. If that’s clothing, find a way that suits you, go for quality or buy vintage, for example.” - Lotje

tie dye tube top mini skirt set TITS

You don’t have to be Gretha Thunberg to take a more sustainable approach to fashion (although, it doesn’t hurt), nor do you have to Marie Kondo away your entire wardrobe. Lotje says: “you can’t change the world on your own. Find a medium that suits you. If that’s clothing, find a way that suits you, go for quality or buy vintage, for example.” Educate yourself on different forms of sustainability, invest in pieces you’ll truly love for a long time and upcycle them if you no longer do. On that note, treating yourself to the Nyx top and Aphrodite skirt isn’t a bad way to start!


Photography: Sharon Pannen
Models: Mariana Skilla & Ella Stattmiller

Author: Marjolijn Oostermeijer