Leading The Change: Upcycling Initiatives by Brands


Upcycling programs and initiatives globally are transforming the fashion industry, encouraging the reuse, repair, and transformation of existing garments by significantly reducing landfill waste. These programs, by extending the life cycle of clothing, conserve resources and highlight the necessity of responsible consumption.

The take back program at Refash is one such initiative towards zero-waste where old, unwanted clothes can be donated, and the collected garments are given a second life rather than ending up in landfills. You can send them through this donation form, and as a token of gratitude, you'll receive a repair kit.

Several brands around the world have introduced upcycling programs and initiatives, emphasising the importance of sustainability and responsible use of resources. Here are a few examples:


Patagonia, a leading outdoor apparel retailer in the US, is committed to environmental sustainability, exemplified by their Worn Wear program. This initiative encourages customers to extend the lifespan of their purchases through responsible care, repair, and reuse.

Patagonia's trade-in service under the Worn Wear program is another noteworthy aspect of this initiative where customers can return their used Patagonia items in good condition. In exchange, customers receive a Worn Wear Merchandise Credit valued up to $100 per item, promoting a circular economy and keeping quality gear in circulation and out of landfills.

(Image credit: Patagonia - Worn Wear)

Patagonia's Worn Wear program features the Recrafted line, created from used garments that would otherwise end up in landfills. These items are sorted, redesigned, and repurposed in Los Angeles, transforming them into unique pieces. This sustainable collection is available online, supporting Patagonia's commitment to a circular fashion economy.


Eileen Fisher is a luxury fashion brand recognised for its commitment to eco-friendly practices and minimalist design. Their 'Renew' program is a prime example of this commitment, operating on a circular system. It encourages customers to return their used clothing items, which are then resold to be appreciated anew. Customers returning their used Eileen Fisher clothing to any U.S. Eileen Fisher or Renew store receive $5 in Renew Rewards per piece.

(Image Credit: Eileen Fisher - Renew)

While a portion of profits typically goes to supporting women, girls, and environmental organisations, changes due to COVID-19 have temporarily shifted the approach. Currently, Eileen Fisher donates wearable condition clothing to local nonprofits with similar focus areas, continuing their commitment to positive societal and environmental impact.


Beyond Retro, a vintage clothing retailer operating in the UK and Sweden, is passionate about reclaiming, reducing, and reusing resources, thereby fostering a circular fashion model. Their initiative, 'Beyond Retro Exchange,' invites customers to sell their pre-loved workwear, designer pieces, sportswear or vintage pieces, receiving up to 20% off in a Beyond Retro Gift card. This system promotes the idea of clothing longevity, helps to close the loop on fashion waste, and allows customers to enjoy unique, handpicked vintage styles while contributing to sustainable fashion.

(Image Credit: Beyond Retro)

Beyond Retro's another sustainable initiative, '360', offers an innovative approach to vintage shopping. This program encourages customers to buy, wear, and then return items within a year for a 30% rebate on the original purchase price. By promoting the re-use of pre-loved pieces, '360' aims to close the loop on fashion waste. Unwanted items returned within 12 months earn the customer an online gift card, thereby facilitating a wardrobe refresh while contributing to sustainability.


TOAST, an apparel and decor brand from Wales, embodies a slow and thoughtful approach to life, focusing on creating durable, timeless silhouettes. They offer several circular initiatives like 'TOAST Repair', a free mending service, and 'TOAST Renewed', a collection of creatively repaired pieces.

(Image Credit: Toast - Circular Intiatives)

Their 'TOAST Exchange' program, formerly known as 'TOAST Circle', was launched in 2019 as a clothes-swapping initiative. This has since evolved into a series of events held in TOAST stores, where customers can swap garments and share stories, fostering a sense of community around sustainable fashion.


Netherlands-based denim brand, Mud Jeans, is renowned for its sustainable approach to fashion. Their 'Lease a Jeans' initiative allows customers to rent denim products for a monthly fee, with discounts for additional leases and a one-month discount for returning an old pair when starting a new lease. After a year, customers can opt to keep, swap, or return the jeans.

(Image Credit: Mud Jeans - Lease a Jeans)

In their commitment to being a circular brand, Mud Jeans ensures no product goes to waste, maintaining all jeans within a sustainable loop. They also accept jeans from other brands (comprising at least 96% cotton), covering transportation and handling costs to send these to their recycling partner in Valencia. Their business model is structured to encourage the return of an old pair of jeans when purchasing a new one.

Upcycling programs by brands play a crucial role in promoting sustainability and reducing environmental impact. These initiatives create consumer awareness about circular economies and the importance of responsible consumption.

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