Upcycling: Turning Old Clothes Into Something New
Manuela Donati

The fashion industry produces lots of clothes, including cheap ones, many of which are quickly thrown away and replaced by new ones. In Switzerland, 50,000 tonnes of clothes are discarded each year — the equivalent of six kilos per person. 

Die Idee presents the concept of fashion designer Rafael Kouto, who is upcycling worn clothes in Zurich. He works exclusively with recycled materials, clothes, bicycle tyres and plastic bottles.

Half Togolese, the designer says he was inspired by African artists who re-use old materials. "It's always a surprise how the garments turn out in the end. Initially, you can't really imagine it, but you end up with a high end item that is really desirable," explains Kouto. His first collection, shown at Mode Suisse in February 2018, instantly made a strong impression among the attendees. 

Rafael Kouto shares his expertise in purchasing upcycling materials, and how his actions contribute to raising awareness on an important issue. With his help, participants are able to give new value to mass-produced garments. 

He represents a new generation of designers who believe fashion and sustainability can go hand in hand. 

This article is being published as part of Earth Beats, an international and collaborative initiative gathering 18 news media outlets from around the world to focus on solutions to waste and pollution. 

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Keywords: Die Idee , Earth Beats