Upcycle with Melanie Child

It’s a fact that the fashion industry has a bad reputation for being wasteful. Very wasteful; shamefully wasteful. But we all have to wear clothes on our back, so what to do?

By Wendy Johnson

Melanie Child, a fashion designer from New Zealand, says we have to think about what we wear and make decisions about whether we want to add to the problem or do something about it. Melanie, who runs independent fashion label Melanie Child, knows a thing or two about the topic. She is an award-winning designer specialising in upcycling, and not just any old upcycling; high-end, fashion-focused upcycling.

Upcycled by Melanie Child

Upcycled by Melanie Child

In Melanie’s world, upcycle means to reuse one item to create another of higher quality or value than the original. “We live in a world saturated with mass production and its by-products,” says the designer. “Approximately 4 per cent of total annual waste into landfill in New Zealand alone is textile waste. It’s a big problem.” 

In a matter of weeks, Canberrans will get to see Melanie’s designs first-hand, as she makes her debut appearance at FASHFEST (13 to 16 May). On the catwalk, Melanie will show how upcycling doesn’t mean compromising with design. Every garment she creates is high-end and produced as a one-off piece or in limited runs. This is creative redesign at its best.

Stunning upcycled jacket from Melanie Child

Stunning upcycled jacket from Melanie Child

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Melanie doesn’t use anything new, except for trims.  She focusses exclusively on using post-consumer waste, or pre-loved garments as raw materials. The designs produced under the Melanie Child label are thought provoking and sculptural, with a dark edge. They’re highly sought after by customers with an eclectic style, who don’t follow trends. They set them.

Melanie designs for women from 16 to 60 years of age who share a common thread—the desire to collect unique pieces that will last in their wardrobes for many seasons. They’re women with designer pieces and op-shop pieces sitting comfortably with one another in their wardrobe. “Some pieces reflect the shapes and silhouettes of the original garment, while others use more subtle detail integrated into the finished piece,” says Melanie.

Upcycled leather by Melanie Child

Upcycled leather by Melanie Child

Melanie recently won a Supreme Award for a couture garment made from business attire, including collars off of men’s business shirts and off-cuts from other pieces—a play on the 9 to 5 work day. The dress graduated from light to dark colours and Melanie won the award in the Oversew Fashion Awards, an upcycling fashion competition in Wairarapa. At FASHFEST, Melanie will launch a 12 piece collection. “I’m excited to be part of the event,” she says. “Very excited.”

On the runway with Melanie Child

On the runway with Melanie Child

Melanie graduated from the Otago Polytechnics School of Fashion in 2009. She recently showcased a ten piece collection at New Zealand Eco Fashion Week in Wellington. Most recently Melanie was selected to show an eight piece collection at Undress Runways in Brisbane, Australia’s largest sustainable fashion show. All Melanie Child clothing is 100 per cent designed and made from a studio in New Zealand.MelanieChild_FF15_hi_141030_02

Melanie Child is on the FASHFEST runway on Friday, 15 May. For the best seats in the house, be quick to grab your ticket: www.fashfest.com.au

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