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


Where to next? [fashion, Part One]

Looking at international Fashion Week designs for Winter 2017/18, it suddenly stuck me something is wrong with fashion.  It’s out of fashion.

What is supposed to be cutting edge has stagnated.  The biggest movement in the last eight years is preppy hipster wear, which first made an appearance in the 1920’s.

With global awareness of climate change, population growth, fair trade, ethical manufacturing, sustainable and closed loop production, making clothing from new materials suddenly makes no sense.

After this revelation, came another; that clothing for him or her is no longer a thing.  Our next generation is moving away from gender specific branding in every way, and now focuses on being authentic with what they like, who they are and how they identify.  This freeing up of gender specific clothing design goes beyond the unisex or androgynous looks of the 70’s to 90’s.  It’s not a fad based trend but a genuine social upheaval that is influencing how we dress at the grass roots level.

And finally, the old ‘travel the world for inspiration’ resulting in cultural appropriation is over.  Themed parades appropriating First Nation head-dresses, artworks and ceremonial clothing by designers who have nothing to do with that culture, and without the permission of the First Nation peoples, are stealing intellectual property.

I think this uprising social awareness pushes artists and designers further into their own culture(s) to find inspiration.  Now more than ever, we can quickly access global information and images, but are challenged to process them in a visual language that is unique to our own experience.

Maybe the final awareness of the change in society, is the growing acceptance of street art and graffiti.  Art is coming out of the galleries in all forms of expression, and into our faces on the street.  After years of generic paid advertising creating visual pollution, it’s refreshing to see the work of random artists.  People who are willing to pay for their own materials, donate their own time, and at their own risk, make the city a more interesting place.  I’m waiting to see how this influences fashion beyond creating a backdrop for fashion shoots, a hoodie and pair of jeans that accommodates a spray can.


Young people are very good at shaking up the status quo, and pushing us into a new way of thinking.

Closed loop, Sustainable, Recyclable, Renewable Economy

As we move through 2016 with another unsettled Federal Government and the search for meaningful policies, I thought it was time to look at the big picture of The Economy and how to tackle present and future policy.

I’ve written a little before about Closed Loop production and Paul Guilding’s book, The Great Disruption part one and two (three is still coming), but not the big picture of the economy.

I think we are working backwards with economic policy.  We start with what we have done in the past, then try to steer it towards making some concessions to our situation today.  We should be working in the reverse, starting with the situation of today and then building economic discussion to a transformative yet workable outcome.

The basics are:  We are the environment and part of the eco system, so should stop talking about it as if it is something separate from us.  What affects one thing affects all of us, either directly or indirectly.  We have a world population of 7.4 billion people, compared to 7.125 in 2013, and here are some sobering figures.  Population growth at this rate is unsustainable and we are already feeling the effects of  people in first world countries consuming more than the planet can provide.

Studies have shown education leads to lower fertility and greater prosperity.  That in itself is an argument to prioritise free and accessible quality education to the highest level possible, for all people.  Of course children can only access education if their families other basic needs are met, such as healthy food, safe shelter and adequate healthcare (starting with preventative by meeting the other needs).  We still struggle to provide these basic necessities in Australia for all our citizens and people in our care, though it should be achievable.

Starting with where we are today,  look at what we have; what is a finite resource; what is renewable; what is sustainable and what is recyclable.  Sustainable and closed loop production is a principle based on how our earth runs and looking wider, we are made from star dust from the universe in a constant state of decay and regeneration.  If we constantly feed our economy with resources that have either zero or little impact on the environment and ideally improve it, we are setting up an economy that is sustainable and will provide for the world’s population.

I’m interested in the Federal Government’s new Innovation agenda, that could focus on investment in technology that meets the above criteria.  Technology could be widened to include all practises that add value to our planet, such as First Nations’/Aboriginal knowledge of fire control and burning to ensure less destructive bushfires, a costly escalating event in Australia.  It could also re-fund the CSIRO recognising future-proofing our environment is an essential investment.  Australia has a golden opportunity to invest in sustainable and closed loop production and transform our economy, to become an example internationally.









Closed Loop Production

This post was going to be about efficient house design, but I was side-tracked watching the visionary Joost Bakker on Gardening Australia (ABC Television).  If you haven’t heard of him, Joost Bakker is a Dutch born Australian designer, restaurateur and innovator, who opened a futuristic pop up restaurant in 2008 at Federation Square, Melbourne.

The first ‘Greenhouse’ by Joost Bakker, Federation Square, Melbourne

The ‘Greenhouse‘ was unique in being constructed of light gauge steel, straw and plywood with recycled decor and a zero waste policy.  A roof garden supplied organic vegetables for the restaurant.  This concept is replicated with the permanent café Silo by Joost in Hardware Street, Melbourne, a permanent Greenhouse in Perth and the soon to be Greenhouse in the East End of London.

“Greenhouse’ Perth

By using recycled and sustainable recyclable materials, Joost Bakker shows how closed loop production can work.  Closed Loop Production or Closed Loop Systems is based on the principle that we are responsible for everything we generate and consume, so our base materials and processes are safe, sustainable, renewable and recyclable.

Closed Loop diagram

My big challenge is how to apply this to the Eucalypso label and every day living.  The studio and house are now solar powered during daylight hours, so this is one small step in the right direction.


Joost Bakker  http://byjoost.com/who-is-joost/