University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
School of Architecture College of Design

Repurposed Materials

Reducing waste is a core concept of sustainable design. The energy to collect, sort, and resell
second-hand clothing requires between 10-20 times less energy than to design and produce a new
product. The practice of “repurposing” is becoming popular with consumers and designers who are
concerned about large amounts of unwanted and discarded clothing clogging the fashion system.
They also want to break away from mass-produced, fast fashion. This can also mean repairing and
reconditioning garments (or parts of garments) to create innovative new designs.
Inventive ways to reduce the disposal of clothing are more valuable than ever. These ways include

❚ Recycling – Finding a way to use a product or material again. When a garment is of
no further use to the first owner, it can be recycled to a second life as vintage clothing.
❚ Up-cycling – Altering or customizing used and vintage clothing to personalize a
garment and increase its value. Several garments may be cut apart to create a new
garment or a used garment may be purchased and transformed with surfaces changed
through embroidery, overdyeing, or beading.
❚ Found objects transformed – using items that are undisguised but often modified
such as stones, shells, or wood; they can also be items like labels and wrappers, which
are seen as trash to most people, but can be put together to form something new.

Contact Information

Goldstein Museum of Design

364 McNeal Hall,

1985 Buford Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

P: 612-624-7434 |

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