About forgotten design Part 2/6 - High street imitation

To make reconstructed and recycled fashions truly fashionable you cannot forget design. No matter what materials or techniques used the finished product must have the design appeal. Too often crafters and recycle fashion labels just make stuff from recycled materials, but they hardly ever qualify as recycle design. I´m doing a post series of my Design Rules and Guidelines that I have established to help make your recycle crafts and fashions more designer looking. For better sales and also help you take your recycle crafts to the next level.


This is propably the most controversial rule I have as it involves copying someone elses design to some extent. I see no harm in beign inspired by high street fashion brands. When a crafter (not professional designer) is trying to sell their goods to a wider consumer base, meaning those not-so-recycle-oriented-fashiniostas, it is easier to start with a design that is allready accepted in the fashion circles as fashionable. As long as the item is produced in small quantities, complitely handmade and by using recycled materials I´m sure the big designers do not mind as it can hardly be considered as piratism (= will not effect the original brands sales negatively). And just to be clear, I do not support copying designs from other crafters or indie brands.

Take bags for example. I´m so tired of seeing crafters make boring totebags year after year, when they could make designer imitation bags from recycled materials. Those I would buy! Sure totebags are simple and fast to produce, but they have zero editorial appeal.

Plain square totebags are not fashionable, no matter how ecological the material or production method is. Most crafters can make this themselves so why would they spend money to buy yours?!

Look up "designer bags" from luxury webshop as they have the widest selection and often detail images of the original item. If someone were to make a similar design to this Dior tote from recycled leather (example by top stitching a fleece layer underneath the leather) I´d buy it! I´m sure also fashion magazine stylists would be intrested in a design like this as they can easily squeeze it into any editorial. Just remember to change the design enough so that it becomes "a stitched recycled leather tote with chain handles" instead of an 100% Dior knock-off... The magazine editor will not publish that. Crafter made designer imitations can also be sold with a higher price than the regular stuff so it is worth the trouble. Are you with me on this?!

I do think you should avoid using exactly the same material or color combo when making your stuff since that´s just too obvious. Just the idea and overall style. Ideas for more designer looking bags.

Loeffler Randall Katia Patent Envelope Clutch.

Maison Martin Margiela Large Poppy hobo bag.

The same principle can be applied to recycle clothing or accessorie design. Why make a boring plain dress from recycled curtains/household linens and sell it for 80$ when you could make the shape of it look more like something from the catwalk (still made from recycled materials) and sell it for 200$...

Pink dress by Dior.

If pattern making is not your strongest side, I recommend buying the pattern and then making your garment with that from recycled materials. The pattern will be reusable and you are able to make your garments often in more than one size!

Images via Etsy, Vogue Patterns, Heal and eLuxury.

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. hey hey, i did a tutorial on lace-up ballet shoes. i hope you can check it out :)


  2. that envelope clutch is gorgeous

  3. Great ideas, great with a tutorial like this one, but I'm not sure you can sell clothes made with commercial patterns. I have seen text on the envelopes that it's forbidden to sell any creations based on the pattern. Open source works though (f.ex. www.burdastyle.com, I think?). So I think either you have to change the design quite a bit or choose the right pattern. Maybe this applies to designer patterns, only, I'm not sure...

  4. Btw, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the jacket in the first picture... gorgeous!

  5. Karin, you are right. If I would be a professional designer working for a larger company or a small brand, using Burda patterns in your desings would be a big no-no. But if you modify the pattern slightly (maybe alter the hem, neckline or sleeves a bit) and sell a small quantity in Etsy, handsewn by you from recycled materials, I´m sure nobody will care or sue you for it...

    But if you want to be complitely on the safe side, make all the patterns yourself or use Open Source patterns.