What is Y21 ReWork?
By getting involved in initiatives like upcycling, our brand hopes to contribute to the upcycling movement through our sub-brand, Y21 ReWork, an exploratory initiative to reduce fashion waste by upcycling defective clothes and scrap fabrics into new thoughtful and high-quality products.
Fashion is infamously known for the amount of waste it produces. According to the National Environment Agency, in 2022, Singapore households generated 254,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste, but only 2 per cent of this, or 5,000 tonnes, was recycled, a drop from 4 per cent in the previous year. Upcycling prolongs the lifespan of pre-existing materials and finished garments and ensures that they remain in circulation, rather than end up in a landfill.
We collaborate closely with our manufacturers to save leftover fabric scraps from being discarded, and they will later be transformed into new products. Additionally, we teamed up with local fashion schools in Singapore to harness the creative potential of up-and-coming talents to design prototypes from these excess fabric pieces and brainstorm inventive upcycling concepts.
Since June 2023, 60 pieces of defective items have already been upcycled and made into an assortment of bags and redesigned clothes, and we will continue adding more pieces to the line-up. As a start, we aim to produce 10% of our products from upcycled materials in the future.
Y21 ReWork offers two main categories of products, bags crafted from leftover scrap fabric to minimise wastage and upcycled Y21 defective pieces that undergo unique customization, reimagining, and redesigning.
Our fashion intern, Eng Ki, had a chat with our founder, Jarenis Ho, where she spilled the beans about the initiative.
Eng Ki: How sustainable is Y21?
Jarenis: Recently, I've been pondering sustainability quite a bit. You see, we operate as a clothing brand, and we frequently introduce new styles to align with our customers' preferences. We recognize that the fashion industry thrives on continually introducing new trends, and excessive consumption isn't environmentally friendly.
Nevertheless, our methodology revolves around sourcing for good quality fabric, ensuring good workmanship and crafting designs that have longevity and versatility. This approach guarantees that our designs don't quickly go out of trend and can be either resold as pre-loved items or transformed through upcycling.
Eng Ki: What inspired you to start the Y21 ReWork?
Jarenis: When I recently visited the factories that manufacture our collections, I noticed a significant amount of fabric waste generated during our production process. I had this idea that by launching Y21 ReWork, we could tap into the creativity of our local emerging designers to come up with innovative ways to upcycle and repurpose fashion waste.
I envision Y21 ReWork as a sort of fashion experimentation lab, where we create prototypes and generate upcycling ideas that our factories can learn from.
We hope to encourage more conscious shopping among consumers by showcasing how Y21 ReWork’s products were upcycled and the efforts that were taken to produce them. We are excited to reveal the upcycled prototypes that our young fashion designer has been working on. These emerging talents bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table and we are delighted to be partnering with them for Y21 ReWork.
Eng Ki: I'm actually the lucky first intern to jumpstart this initiative, and I have to say, I'm really thankful for the chance and the freedom to dive into upcycling. I'm curious, though, what's the ultimate goal here?
Jarenis: Since we kicked things off, we've already upcycled 53 defective Y21 items, and the count keeps on climbing, all in just three months. Down the road, I'm aiming to shift a fraction of our product lineup over to Y21 ReWork, hopefully by 20%.
While our brand isn't exactly the poster child for sustainability, my hope is that Y21 ReWork can play a role in reducing fashion waste. We want to replace synthetic materials, like stuffing for bags, pillows, and plush toys, with scrap fabric as a way to do our part in minimizing waste.
Eng Ki: Did you encounter any difficulties?
Jarenis: Sure, I did, but you've been really supportive throughout. Generating fresh upcycling ideas eats into my usual workflow. Y21 ReWork is just a two-person crew, so we don't have a hefty budget or a large team to rely on. Keeping in touch with our factories and making sure they handle fashion waste properly also demands a chunk of time. Plus, since this project is still a work in progress, I can't guarantee it'll all pay off, but we've got to give it our best shot to make a positive impact.
Eng Ki: When will the upcycled pieces be launched?
Jarenis: A section of our flagship store in Suntec City has been dedicated to Y21 ReWork, an exploratory initiative to reduce fashion waste by upcycling defective clothes and scrap fabrics into new thoughtful and high-quality products.
Follow @Y21ReWork on Instagram to discover more and tag #Y21ReWork to share your upcycled wardrobe or dope one-of-a-kind pieces.