Meet 6 Designers Turning Waste Into Wait-List Styles

The spirit of Martin Margiela lives on in a rising class of creatives pushing the boundaries of upcycling.

Writer: Clara Young Illustrator: Lucie de Bréchard

Conceptual master Martin Margiela was always ahead of his time. Decades before the word became commonplace in the fashion conversation, the Belgian designer made upcycling part of his artistic ethos, debuting his Artisanal line in the late ’80s. Constructing luxury styles out of discarded materials, Margiela rescued cheap, old lingerie and recycled it into halter tops and skirts, creating a playbook for the future of upcycling. Slow and regenerative, upcycling transforms end-cuts, defective stock and unwanted clothes into desirable garments. Often, it requires reverse engineering and is labor-intensive.

In 2023, upcycling has become not just a trendy medium for exploration, but an imperative for responsible production. Today, upcycling is undergoing a kind of creative evolution driven by an emerging class of designers. Below, meet six designers championing upcycling in new, experimental and innovative ways.

Upcycled acid-washed jeans by Andrea Crews; upcylced Jacket crafted out of PUMA cast-offs by Nicole McLaughlin.
Upcycled melange jumper by Marine Serre; Upcycled corset made out of sneaker uppers by Sevali Studio.
Upcycled waist-coat made out of gloves by Martin Margiela.