The Canvas Town Hall: Upcycling & Denim

This Town Hall highlighted a few of the incredible members of our community, Tove Ohlander of Tove by design, Noor Bchara of NOORISM, and Aly Reinert of The Untrend Shop. The conversation focused on upcycling's role in sustainable fashion and denim as a versatile and timeless option.  

Tove Ohlander, Founder of Tove by design

Over the years, Tove worked at the drawing table and the glass studio while representing her glass company Egenart, located outside of Oslo, and AO Glass in Vermont, at markets, stores, and shows. Tove felt that she was missing out on that great garment that would make her feel put together and look “the part” of her trade. A few years ago, Tove with Annika Axelson and Amanda Nordin’s help, developed their garment she had always wanted—a wrap-skirt that folds in the back with front pockets. It became The Maker Skirt, for folks at work and play.

Noor Bchara, Founder of NOORISM

Noor Bchara is a New York based Fashion Designer, sustainability consultant and educator, specializing in the scalability of upcycling and repurposing. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Polimoda in Florence, Italy. Noor got her start in Fashion by interning at Marc Jacobs and has since designed for Zac Posen, TAHARI ASL, Ellen Tracy and Kate Spade. She founded NOORISM in 2015 after being disheartened by the volume of poorly-made, practically disposable clothes produced by the Fashion industry every year. NOORISM is a Brooklyn based women’s wear brand that produces clothing and accessories using repurposed jeans, all made in New York. She is a former Venture Fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator, a Pratt initiative. Noor is also an Alumni of the Arts Envoy Program where she travels through the US Embassy and teaches about upcycling in other countries. She most recently founded Upcycle Design School where she offers on-demand video classes as well as group coaching all about upcycled design and is available for speaking engagements.

Aly Reinert, Founder of The Untrend Shop

The Untrend Shop is an upcycled vintage denim brand that creates one of a kind wearable art from unwanted thrifted denim garments and recycled texile scraps. The goal is to re-imagine what ordinary denim garments can look like, all while avoiding harmful production practices or using any new materials. This brand is currently a one women show, created entirely by Aly Reinert from her Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Aly has a degree in textile and apparel design, and decided to start The Untrend Shop after working in corporate fashion and seeing first hand all the waste that is created by the industry. She also saw how much clothing was being discarded each year by consumers and became passionate about upcycling these unwanted garments into something new and unique.

Clothing Donation & Upcycling

While donating clothing to second-hand shops is preferable to throwing them in the landfill, the donation process isn't so linear. The majority of unwanted clothes are shipped to developing countries or sent to textile recyclers who break down the fabric into rags instead of being sold in the store. The amount of clothing donated to countries like Kenya and Haiti have a negative impact on their local economy by taking away the incentive to create a localized industry. Rather than contributing to the growing excess of unwanted clothing, Noor and Aly began to upcycle fabric they found in secondhand stores or had on hand. Denim is a great choice for upcycling because of its widespread availability, versatility, durability, and timelessness. The speakers are passionate about teaching others how to upcycle as a creative and sustainable way to breathe new life into an old garment.

Click below to listen to this discussion on Spotify.