Clothing recycling or upcycling - what's the difference?

Reuse Reduce Recycle

What to do with old clothes? You've sorted out the closet again and now you're confronted with a pile of clothes that you haven't worn for a long time.

There are several ways to recycle old clothes: if the clothes are still usable, you can give them to friends or relatives, for example. Another option is the old clothes collection. Many charities have collection points or used clothing containers where you can hand in second-hand clothing. In some cities there are also exchange centers where you can exchange old clothes for other second-hand clothes if necessary.

But for all those who want to give old clothes a second life themselves and want to wear very special individual pieces, the keyword is: Upcycling!

Nähutensilien zum upcyclen

How does textile upcycling work?

There is so much textile waste in our society that we no longer know what to do with it. We are fed up with throwing away and have therefore dedicated ourselves to upcycling. Upcycling is a particularly resource-saving way of sensibly recycling supposedly 'useless' materials. When clothing and accessories are created, for example, this is called slow fashion.

For us at Beverly Berlin, the following applies: Make new from old – stylish, unique and unmistakable. This is how we create lovingly handmade slow fashion unique pieces from old fabrics that only exist once in the world - just like their wearers! 

In our Berlin shop-atellier, upcycling works as follows: 

  1. We look for unusual second-hand vintage fabrics, second-hand clothes and other suitable materials from clothing collections, selected second-hand shops and our donations.
  1. Before we continue, we clean the fabrics lovingly, professionally and thoroughly.
  1. With the help of our experience and our eye for quality and design, we give the old fabrics a new purpose without losing their character: this is how we create them from old men's shirts extravagant dresses, necklaces, hats and other accessories. From old ties we conjure up scarves, belts or key rings. Old linens, tablecloths and upcycle old (pack) blankets we turn to extravagant eye-catchers such as bags, tops or scarves. Other vintage fabrics, like old jackets, become too after one of our makeovers cool jackets. Or we can come up with something completely new!
  1. Of we go: We start the sewing machine and do what we like to do: give old materials second chances, conjure up favourite pieces for environmentally conscious fashionistas, and on top of that, do something good for the planet.
  1. Our finished one-of-a-kind items are exhibited in our shop-atellier in Berlin-Kreuzberg and in the online shop, and are ready to become hotly loved ones.

Shirt umgestalten zum Beispiel durch bemalen

You can also upcycle at home

Upcycling at home gives you the chance to get really creative and conjure up something stylish new from your old clothes.

There are many great ideas for upcycling old clothes. All you need are scissors, needle and thread. From old t-shirts you can easily DIY shopping bag, decorative cushion covers, cuddly toys, cat or dog toys, or even washable cosmetic pads. If the t-shirt is already a bit worn and has holes, you can also make textile yarn out of it, from which you can crochet baskets, shopping nets or pet toys.

You can use any kind of leftover cotton to do DIY Beeswaxcloth yourself, with which you can save yourself a lot of plastic at home. You can also combine old shirts with one DIY-BentoBag or upcycle a haversack. So you also take care of a more sustainable lifestyle.

How do you recycle old clothes?

Old clothes that are no longer needed should be thrown into a used clothes bin. The contents of these containers are divided into the following groups in a sorting facility: Clothing that can still be worn is donated to the needy, both in Germany and abroad.

Clothing that can no longer be used goes to the recycling plant and is processed into insulating materials, industrial cleaning rags and insulation materials and the rest is used as RDF or ends up in waste incineration.1

Recycling old clothes is currently not that easy, because recycling requires energy and sometimes chemicals. When old textiles are processed into insulation or fillers, a so-called downcycling takes place. However, fiber-to-fiber recycling already exists, but this can only be carried out on materials with a purity of type. This means that textiles made of different materials have to be separated from one another, which is very complex and can cause high costs.3 So it is still more sustainable to sell your old clothes second-hand or upcycle them.

Reduce,Reuse,Recycle - Repeat


Living a sustainable life is not so difficult at all, and if you are more conscious about your clothes, you can make a big difference in the long run. Economical use of resources is important and upcycling plays a big role here. And what can no longer be used should be recycled as much as possible.
To a sustainable life!



2 Naturschutzbund Germany: New fashion from old clothes?

3 T-shirts for the compost: Why the trend only seems environmentally friendly

Back to blog