Origin of The Upcycler

Founder of RETHINK, Kristen McCoy

Twelve years ago I made the decision that if I was going to be in the fashion industry, an industry I knew encouraged disposable clothing you had to rebuy every season and pieces often made from fibers that won’t decompose, that I needed to find another way.

As a kid growing up in small town on a farm, the nearest fabric shop was 25 minutes drive, and new fabrics were out of budget. I was the youngest of 3 girls and when I outgrew my clothes I realized I had so much fabric to work with. I grabbed scissors and went for it, making purses and fabric art on the machine my grandmother gave me.

Twelve years ago I made the stubborn decision that all of my designs would be cut from surplus or secondhand materials. In this twelve years, I have never felt limited by that decision because there is SO MUCH for me to work with! So often I view clothing design as sculpture. I’m not afraid to put a shirt on a dress form upside-down, or cut an 80s blouse into strips that I sew together to make a new textile (see pic). There is nothing quite so freeing as working with something intended for the trash, because the worst thing that happens is that you throw it in the trash OR turn it into something else. The best learning moments I have had over the last 25 years upcycling are when I messed something up real bad, and then made the most of it.

To my future army of upcyclers, I look forward to having a space where I can teach techniques I’ve learned and developed, but most importantly a space where I can encourage you to take the leap and let go of your fear of messing something up. As a wise man so many times has said, “Make it work!”

RETHINK Tailoring & Sewing Lounge coming soon, with alteration/mending/upcycling classes.

XOXO Kristen (aka The Upcycler)

@timgunn thank you for being that voice in my mind when I need it ❤️

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