Shirley: l’upcycling pour lutter contre la pollution textile (w/sub)

Hello! I just arrived at Perlé, which is a small village in the north west of Luxembourg near the Belgian border. It looks like it’s super late but in fact it’s 5pm… So I have an appointment with Shirley, who is doing some « upcylcing ». It means that she gives a new life to used clothes. She is going to tell us a little more about that and show me how she works. I am a stylist and I realized that fashion is very beautiful but it’s super, super polluting. I just couldn’t continue working that way. I first started using fabrics like organic cotton, hemp. My supplier, with his falls of production, recreated a new fabric. So it was 100% recycled fabric. It allowed me to go into a project called “Madame Ravik”. The idea was to create a brand of clothing from recycled clothes. They asked several stylists to work on the project. For me it was really the impulse. I thought « ok, that’s really what I want to do now”. And that’s how I really got started with upcycling At first you worked part-time ..? Yes, initially I was what is called independent complementary. So I had a part-time employee job and I was part-time independent. I think this is one of the best solutions, one of the best options when you start, to try and see if it is really what you want to do. When we came back to live here and I had my first boy, I decided to try to really develop my business. I am much more fulfilled. I like what I do, I am convinced by what I do. Are you happy? Absolutely, yes, without comparison, I would not go back. This is probably a naive question, but how is it polluting? Well, let’s start with the culture. Pesticides…. They are super, super polluting. It also requires a lot of water. Tinctures are a disaster. n China, there are people who no longer have drinking water because of the textile industry. Synthetic fibers… The big problem is that they are very difficult to recycle. We really are in a consumer society and clothes have become disposable. There’s no more season, we change all the time… We do not look at quality, we look at what we’re going to consume. We are made to believe that we need to consume clothes. Everything is going much faster now, so we do not have time to produce, it has to be done in speed Because I was talking about the ecology, but there is also the human side that is catastrophic. In Bangladesh people are in inhumane situations so that we can buy and throw away what they have created. When we’ve worn our clothes and do not want them anymore, we send them back to them? That’s it Because in clothes collection, there’s a part that will go back to thrift shops, there’s also a part of clothes that’s going to be shredded to get back into the industry of insulation, and there’s a part of the clothing that is sold to companies that recycle it in developing countries. We send them our waste. So they also overflow with clothes and no longer need to make their own So jobs also disappear The textile industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. We don’t hear about it And yet, on the ecological side, on the human side, it is dramatic. We can’t just say “it’s the lobbies, it’s the industry”… We endorse this industry. What solutions can be found to consume less or consume differently? We may buy clothes in stores that are ethical? Yes, this is one of the first things. The second thing …: we have to limit. We do not need 30 or 40 t-shirts in our wardrobe. There is also buying in thrift shops or second-hand shops, where we can also resell our own clothes from time to time Yes. It can really be quite a circuit. There is already a circuit that exists and we can sell, redeem, and so we remain in this circular, local economy. I think that is the solution today. There are also clothing brands that offer organic cotton fabrics, which display their transparency. So buy less, buy differently … And then, maybe, a notion that I feel begins to come back more and more, a very simple one, which is repair? Yes. The big problem now: repairing sometimes costs more than buying. And that’s actually discouraging a lot of people. So that’s why I think: buy quality will make you want to repair it. We must also recognize local know-how. Nowadays nobody knows how to sew anymore, even a button…. we do not know how to do, it is a disaster! I still call my mother to sew a button! It’s ridiculous, but precisely it should put more emphasis on the know-how of people who know how to do it. That’s it, but it has been devalued. It is a job that has no longer been put forward, and so there are no more people who were motivated. A seamstress here has a lot of trouble making a living. So it’s not appealing, no one wants to do it anymore and it’s true that when you ask for the price, people are not ready. They say “no, it’s crazy, I don’t want to pay that much”. My brand is called “Risaïkourou”. It’s Japanese, it means “recycling”. When I started to do upcycling I asked a few people if they had old clothes. And then, they asked other people and they all found the approach pretty interesting. If I did not limit it, well… Yes you could collect whole houses! Yes. It has a lot of constraints, and at the same time it’s very interesting because it forces me to develop my creativity as well because I am limited to the quantities. It’s not a fabric by the meter, it’s small pieces. I have to disassemble the garment and I have to do according to the material. I decided to create bags and pochettes. The leather is really what motivated me to go on the bags. I always liked the accessory, I thought how can I exploit these pieces? Each bag is unique because the leather is different, the jeans I use is never the same. the jeans I use is never the same. Not one bag, not one pochette is identical? No. It’s impossible? It’s impossible! So it has a luxurious side! Yes, that’s also what upcyling actually is. I really added value to this sofa, this old jeans. At first I made clothes. The hardest part with the clothes is that I do not know how to offer several sizes. Working alone and starting to offer several sizes in upcycling, it’s really difficult. I make jackets in jeans, and caps too. So if you take the steps of your work, you have to first collect either leather or jeans. Then you clean? Yes. So I guess that all that is jeans goes in a classic washing machine? That’s right, jeans is not a problem. Leather well… it must be wash, it must also be aired. I rub it with a sponge …. Really ?? Really! So it takes an eternity ?! Yes! And then I put a little moisturizer on it because it is …. Yes it’s skin. Yes, it is! Concerning the animal side, is there a reason why you choose to use leather? Yeah, the reason is that the material is there. That is, if I do not recover it, it is thrown away. That’s where there’s a problem, because this animal was killed for nothing And I have the impression, perhaps naively …. I continue a cycle You receive, you wash, either you already have your pattern for what you want to do or you do something else? Yes, in these cases I create a new pattern, I start a whole new project. You also organize workshops. Yes. I found it interesting to show people … it’s mostly women that’s why I’ll say « they » (« elles » en français) right away …. They can also do upcycling and recycle their old clothes It’s a creative workshop. So it’s really: what do I have at home and what can I do with it? It’s really not the technique I’m trying to put forward, it’s really that they actually feel free to do what they want. One of the achievements that is proposed during the workshops is to reuse one’s old socks and transform them into mittens. It’s great! That’s what the workshops are about: it must be within the reach of everyone, it must not take too long either. I would really like to educate young people because I think young people are let’s say, very influenced by the brand. I have my mark, but I also want to change mentalities and for that I think…. Young people are the ones I must reach Thank you very much Shirley! Thank you See you soon? See you soon!

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