Brazilian fashion label Re-Roupa is revolutionising the face of fashion and the lives of those who make the clothes by creating new collections entirely from upcycled materials, which are sewn by seamstresses from low-income communities.
The Rio de Janeiro-based clothing label is the brainchild of designer and creative director, Gabriela Mazepa. The designer collects fabrics from local factories that are otherwise thrown away – fabric roll ends, flaps, and clothes with small defects – and turns them into stylish, upcycled pieces.
It is estimated that in Brazil, about 170 thousand tonnes of textile waste are discarded per year. Around 85% of the textile waste is not recycled, and ends up in landfills.
Gabriela Mazepa says: “Re-Roupa is a project that proposes the creation of new clothes from raw materials that were considered waste. We believe it is possible to extend the life cycle of these existing clothings using innovative creative processes as a tool.”
Re-Roupa’s collection of upcycled clothes for men and women is available to buy from their Rio de Janeiro store and online. The range includes classic bombers in an eclectic mix of materials
Re-Roupa, which translates as Re-Clothing in English, goes against the fast fashion approach. Garbriela Mazepa was inspired by sustainable fashion whilst studying at the School of Art and on a exchange trip to France in 2006.
Gabriela Mazepa said: “I started in a very intuitive way, I had total freedom to create in the School of Art, since my raw material was the fabric. I always saw clothes like the second skin that communicates things about us even before we talk or have introduced ourselves to someone else.
“I wanted to do something related to this – these social and cultural functions. And the politics behind clothes that is so often forgotten in the run down calendar of fashion. I realised that there was a whole universe to be exploited using what already existed, that excess was an abundant raw material in this consumer world in which people live.”
In addition to the importance of upcycling, Re-Roupa also places value on the people who make the garments, employing seamstresses from low-income communities at the fashion label’s base in Rio de Janeiro.
Re-Roupa say: “Working in partnership with entrepreneurial seamstresses from communities in Rio de Janeiro, who work independently or in cooperatives, relationships are created in a close and fair way with the entire chain involved in production. Ensuring that all pieces are cut and sewn, lovingly one-by-one, by people who are valued and fully included in the manufacturing process of each re-furbished piece.”
At the Re-Roupa store, the fashion label hosts upcycling workshops and talks on upcycling. Re-Roupa are also involved in Roupa-Livre which organises clothing exchange events.
Roupa Livre’s clothing exchange program sets out to substitute the need to buy new clothes, inspiring clothing exchange that naturally occurs between family members and friends.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com