Upcycled Fashion: Junky Styling

Junky Styling are possibly the best known upcyclers of fashion.  Designers Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager, worked from an exposed studio on a shop floor to show transparency in the entire process.  Operating from 1997 to 2012, they started out at the Kensington Markets, then shared a space with a vinyl record store, and finally opened their own shop in East London.

Junky Styling shop in East London, 2012
Junky Styling shop 

I first came across the label in the mid 2000’s.  Westwood and Kawakubo were the innovators of unconventional fit, Kawakubo and Margiela the founders of deconstruction, but Junky Styling were leaders in the modern eco movement of fashion, deliberately using second hand or surplus materials.

Junky Styling Brick Lane, London

With the boring sameness of street wear, it was exciting to see clothing that was surprising.  Junky Styling were unique and inspiring in their approach to redesigning existing clothing without losing the integrity of the original item.  As self taught designers, they approached the remaking of clothing in a clever, unorthodox way,  making good use of the hard work already done in cuffs, collars, pockets, button fronts, tie backs and any tailored detail.

Suit upcycled to hooded bomber jacket, Junky Styling
Suit upcycled to hooded bomber jacket, Junky Styling

Not restricted by the traditional approach to fit, by turning clothing upside down, inside out or sideways, they were able to invent a new silhouette out of an old design.

This video shows a knit cardigan turned upside down, sleeves taken out, and after some refitting via darts and pleats, the sleeves are reinserted the new right way up for a draped neckline shrug; scarf and short top in one.

Upside down cardigan becomes shrug with scarf, Junky Styling
Upside down cardigan becomes shrug with scarf, Junky Styling

Their use of traditional men’s suiting to create unisex street wear was both subversive and intelligent design.  By reusing existing materials and design features, they could transform the message of the ‘suit’  with women taking part, and breaking down the formality of the clothing.  Turning a tailored suit into a halter top for women or a bomber jacket with a hoodie for men, carries on the anarchistic approach of punk.

Junky Styling halter dress from men's suit jacket
Junky Styling halter dress from men’s suit jacket

Their in-house Wardrobe Surgery, offering a made to measure design service from the clients own pre-loved clothing, was the foundation for their book of the same name.

Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery
Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery

The book details their business, including patterns from some of their well loved designs.  A pattern can be reused, but the fabric is always different, so each item of clothing is unique.

Junky Styling vest and shirt
Junky Styling vest and shirt

The Junky Styling designers emphasise finding your own look, and creating what fits and suits you personally.  They also say to be brave in cutting through fabric and experimenting.  This advice is useful for anyone, including designers!

Suit halter top and recycled men's shirts skirt Junky Styling
Upcycled suit jacket halter top and men’s shirts skirt Junky Styling

Junky Styling were founding members of the Ethical Fashion Forum and the “brand aligned with Oxfam’s reuse, recycle and resell philosophy aiming to combat the 1.4 million tonnes of textile waste sent to landfill each year.”

Junky Styling inside Brick Lane shop, London
Junky Styling inside Brick Lane shop, London

Although the shop has now closed, one half of the partnership, Annika, is running her own business including upcycled custom clothing design and consulting for the re-use of waste or excess materials in the textile/fashion industry.









Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery


Money Tree

I recently came across a book in an Op shop by Noel Whittaker called “Making Money Made Simple” and thought for $1, why not?  Expecting a dry old tome about financial markets for high income earners, the book was instead surprisingly easy to read and offered lots of good advice that can apply to anyone.

From experience, most artists survive from one sale/commission/grant/exhibition to the next by working in another industry, or having a supportive family.  The previous post was about exploiting our own IP (intellectual property) as a way of making another income stream, but how about planning for the future?

Artists are great at making what looks like a large amount of money, and then nothing for long stretches of time, so it’s either feast or famine!   Bills pile up in between so when the money does come in, it goes straight out again.  This way of living isn’t conducive to putting money aside for emergencies, let alone for a comfortable future.

Whittaker starts by saying that it doesn’t matter how much money we make, everyone makes a different amount and still has trouble living within their means.  So the problem isn’t how much money we make, but spending up to that amount.  The problem with spending all we make is that there is no money for emergencies, and we end up borrowing to pay bills, which then sets up a cycle of debt.

Whittaker’s solution is to retrain our way of thinking.  Set a percentage of our income aside for paying down debt, emergencies, savings and retirement as if we were paying a bill.  Direct debit from our account as soon as we are paid, so the money isn’t there to spend.

Instead of just drifting from one pay to the next, we are told to set goals.  To actually think about what we want to achieve financially and then follow the steps to achieve it, one at a time.  He introduces the idea of  growing your own money tree by starting small, for example 10% each pay, and then investing that amount as it grows.

He suggests prioritising paying down debt that isn’t a tax deduction as quickly as possible, then direct debiting the payments into a separate account as soon as the debt is paid so it is kept aside for saving.  Any extra amount paid on a debt reduces the amount of interest and speeds up the term of repayment.  The money that would have been lost over time is now working for you.

He talks similarly about renting versus buying a home.  In Adelaide it’s still possible to buy a unit for under $200,000 or a house under $300,000.  It seems a lot of money, but not when you consider the amount that disappears in rent each week that could be paying a mortgage.

There is another section on borrowing for investment but I thought the most useful advice was about how to pay off debt and save.  There are chapters on various forms of investment and the advantages and disadvantages of term deposits, property investment, shares and trusts, all in easy to understand language.

Whittaker repeats throughout the book, that the amount of money isn’t the issue, but the discipline to save, even a small amount, each pay.  He suggests drawing up a budget and taking on small jobs to make extra money, such as newspaper delivery or cleaning, to emphasise that every little counts.  The book ends with advice to people at all stages of life, so the message is it’s never too early or late to start growing your nest egg.

Making Money Made Simple

The Great Disruption part 2

Continuing on from the last post, The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding, the author examines what will cause an abrupt rather than slow end to global economic growth.  Through our denial of the fact that we are using more resources than the earth is capable of sustaining, we will continue to fight the inevitable.

The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy Continue reading The Great Disruption part 2

The Great Disruption

My Dad recently passed on a book called “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding.  While I’ve read articles and listened to arguments about the impact of man-made global warming, finite resources and over consumption,  I’ve never thought about how all these events will come together to impact on life as we know it.

The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy Continue reading The Great Disruption

More Inspirational Books

Vivienne Westwood (V & A Publications)

Vivienne Westwood (VA)

This beautiful book was written by Clare Wilcox, curator of the highly successful, international travelling Vivienne Westwood V & A exhibition.  Published in 2004, it documents 33 years of Westwood’s evolution to (who I think is) the most influential contemporary fashion designer in the world.  With large colour photographs grouped in the order of each major collection and insightful commentary including a Forward, art direction and quotes throughout by Westwood, this is a must have for any dedicated fashionista.  I’d love to see a follow up for the next 10 years. Continue reading More Inspirational Books