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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.