Some of my favorite Instagram follows are upcycled or re-worked vintage brands, which alter a vintage item to make it something different. Oftentimes, upcycling is done to repair a garment or alter the size, but what really gets me excited is a full-blown reinvention—the sartorial equivalent of changing your name and moving to a new town whilst wearing a fake mustache.
I’m talking about piecing together old quilts to make a new jacket, like Psychic Outlaw does. Or combining several vintage T-shirts to make a new tank top, like those of JJ Vintage. Taking apart towels from the ’70s to make a bucket hat like DOS Swim has. Or even making loafers out of vintage hand-woven Turkish rugs a la Res Ipsa. The list goes on and on, as evidenced by the #reworkedvintage and #upcycledclothing hashtags I follow on Instagram, so I asked the team to share some of their favorite upcycled and reworked vintage brands out there. —Elizabeth Tamkin
JJ Vintage, recommended by Elizabeth
I scored a JJ Vintage original a couple of months ago from the brands then-Depop. After selling vintage reworked items in 2015 as a side business, the brand’s founder, Jasmin, launched JJ Vintage in 2019—and since my purchase, has since set up her own website to release a new batch of designs—sometimes weekly—announced in advance on the brand’s Instagram. The product sells out within seconds, so don’t dilly-dally. JJ Vintage also offers 25 custom orders per drop, in case you have a specific color combination in mind or need custom sizing. In this case, Jasmin pieces together existing clothing—and therefore is able to custom fit to the client’s measurements. Prices range from $30 for less intensively reworked pieces to $150 for dresses and sets. My personal favorite pieces: her vintage sports logo one-shoulder tops and tanks, often boasting a Nike swoosh. I like to wear my top (which is a three-panel tank) dressed up with a little skirt and Mary Jane flats or pants and heeled mules. I feel incredibly cool wearing it—and I love knowing that there is no other top in the universe that is the same.
Eat Da Rich, recommended by Lorenza
Eat da Rich has been on my radar for a few years now. Artist and founder Simone Else does her magic by making irl edits to dated silhouettes and adding metal chains anywhere possible. Her EDR collection is quite large, with accessories, clothing, intimates, housewares and sale—she even has a section on her site for chic unaltered vintage finds. Pricing varies from $18 statement earrings to $5,000 tufted fine art rugs. EDR also offers custom orders as well as collaborations with other local artists. But no shop is complete without a staple item—so might I suggest EDR’s signature Hot-Wheels bolo tie? I already own a handful of their creations, but here’s what I have my eye one at the moment:
Girl of the Earth, recommended by Mikaela
I came across this brand on Instagram, and though I have yet to buy anything, I am always in love with everything they make! It was the scarf shirts that got me— there’s just nothing quite like waking up on a hot summer day, removing your head scarf and tying it around your bra-less boobs. Throw on some jean shorts and you got a whole ‘fit. Anyway, I digress: They specialize in upcycling vintage fabrics, so all of their pieces have gorgeous prints and trusted blends like 100% cotton or silk. I’ve been giving the “eyes” emoji to their Williamsburg top, so if you snag one we can match.
3 Women, recommended by Harling
I found this California-based company through my Explore page on Instagram (I love when that happens!) and was immediately drawn to it because of the unique fabrics they use to make upcycled clothes. Upon further investigation, I found out most of their fabrics are from old 1940s-era flour and seed sacks and tablecloths—so cool. They have a small ready-to-wear collection of upcycled clothes in addition to a general vintage offering, and they also offer size-inclusive, custom-fit pieces based on your individual measurements. I haven’t purchased anything yet (the pricing for their upcycled pieces ranges between $160-$250 on average, which is steep, and things seem sell out almost immediately as soon as they’re posted to the Instagram account), but I’m a very content “window shopper” for now, and I love seeing how they reinvent stuff.
Psychic Outlaw, recommended by Amalie
I first became aware of Psychic Outlaw when she took a beloved family quilt from none other than Ruby Redstone and reinterpreted it as a coat! Since this editorial last year, styled by none other than Harling Ross, I haven’t been able to get patchwork out of my bloodstream. The longer the trend extends, the more palpably I feel like I actually just want to wear quilts from my head to my toes (no joke—where are the quilted shoes). Though the price point is on the higher side, Psychic Outlaw provides the unique service of turning an heirloom into a wearable work of art. Even if the quilt you choose to be made into a coat is of little importance to you personally, how fun that a bespoke jacket was made just for you? They also make one-of-a-kind dresses out of bandanas, if the quilted route isn’t for you. The brand emerged in early 2018, from what I’ve divined through an Instagram lurk, and has taken off in the past few months. Snag a coat or dress while you can!
I Need Vintage, recommended by Tiffany
I started to notice a specific subset of upcycled, vintage, sportswear on my Instagram Discover page, where old fleeces, soccer scarves and sweats were remade into sporty two-piece outfits—the modern equivalent of the twin set. Of these brands, my favorite is Italian contender I Need Vintage which reworks vintage cycling jerseys into crop tops and mini skirts for an end product that’s equal parts Tour de France and Euro disco. The sets are a steal at €35.00 (around $40) and feature an amazing mashup of ’90s prints and typography. In a dream world, I’d wear mine to enjoy an aperitivo after a long day of cycling up and down a mountain somewhere in Europe. In our current reality, I’ll settle for pairing one of their crop tops with some jeans or Dickies for a socially distanced park date.
Thirsty for more? Here’s an extended list of excellent upcycling brands to shop:
Almost on Time
Conversations Over Chai
Eat Da Rich
Girl of the Earth
I Need Vintage
Kiki the Brand
Les Fleurs Studio
Maddy Page Knitwear
Next Level Vintage
Pigment The Label
Resurrect by Night
Sami Miro Vintage
Seks 5th Avenue
Styles in Seams
The Label Rae
Upcycled by Reissued
Who Decides War
Do you have a favorite upcycling brand? Let us know in the comments below!