Upcycling, thrifting, altering – these pastimes have become incredibly popular with #upcycling on TikTok garnering 8.7 billion views.
The movement is often praised for it’s sustainability efforts – giving pre-loved pieces a new lease of life.
The reimagined garments are at times sold on for much more money than they were bought for.
But are there certain vintage clothing pieces that are best left preserved?
New York City Actress Kelley Heyer received a lot of backlash from her 159,000 followers on TikTok after she transformed a vintage 1970s gown into a modern party frock.
One user wrote: ‘It looked better before…I hate it when people ruin vintage clothing.’
Another said: ‘Every time a girl thrifts the most beautiful gorgeous dress and completely destroys it because she wanted to “change it a bit”, a fairy loses her wings.’
One simply commented: ‘Turned a beautiful vintage gown into a Shein dress.’
In response to the TikTok hate Kelley said: ‘Some of y’all are acting like I personally went into your home and burned your grandmother’s wedding dress, or I took the Betsy Ross flag and turned it into a Y2K crop top for Coachella.’
In another video she shared her thoughts on keeping vintage intact or whether it’s okay to make changes to a piece.
She said: ‘My opinion is that it really depends on the piece.’
She references a vintage Laura Ashley dress to which she said: ‘I would alter this dress…but I would not cut this dress up at all.
‘That dress is a very specific and uniquely made garment. The fabric is special. The construction and the era it was made in is really special.’
In fact, there are plenty of people out there who choose to live only in vintage clothing and left just as it is.
Kelley then spoke about the blue dress she altered, saying: ‘I could tell that it was handmade, just based on the stitches and construction. The fabric is not particularly special or unique.’
She guessed the original dress had been a theatre costume or a prom gown, so she turned it into a party frock.
The reimagined dress did receive a lot of love in the comments too, with many users writing ‘not EVERYTHING old needs to be saved…you gave that old thing a NEW LIFE! Keep doing you!’
One wrote: ‘This looks really beautiful. I love how you altered it to be more modern.’
Kelley is far from the first TikToker to spark fierce debate for her upcycling.
But commenting on the trend, Susie Nelson, a preloved clothing expert, said: ‘It’s foolish to have clothes sitting in a wardrobe and not worn, only because they need alteration.
‘So, assuming you purchased the item because you like it, alter it and wear it.
‘If you purchased something as an investment like a rare Dior or YSL and intend to resell it, don’t alter it. It will reduce any resale value, in the same way designer handbags keep their value better if they aren’t used
‘There are no rules. Frocks can be made into tops, skirts or jackets and can have sleeves removed.
‘Personally, I think it is better these items are worn, even if they are redesigned.
‘The alternative could be her buying a new item and the old one going to landfill.’
Sustainable clothing expert Rachel Watkyn also agreed with this view point – why not turn a piece of clothing into something you love?
Rachel said: ‘If someone has a lovely dress and wants to make it something they love, they should be able to do it.
‘Not everyone will love/feel confident in a sweetheart neckline or a frilly sleeve.
‘Maybe leave the Queen’s coronation dress alone, but the conversation around upcycling is much bigger than whether something is aesthetically pleasing or not – it’s about giving used items a new life.’
Rachel even commented on Kelley’s design. She said: ‘If we all dressed the same, the world would be a terribly boring place and there would be no need for unique clothing stores and designers.
‘I think creativity should be encouraged, not looked down on. If this TikToker knew that she wouldn’t wear the dress the way it was, why shouldn’t she be able to make it her own?
‘She had the creativity and the skill and regardless of anyone else’s opinion, she loves it!’
Thrifty blogger and brand PR manager at Embryo, Jo Threlfall, also loves altering and modifying vintage pieces to give them a ‘fresh look’.
Jo told Metro.co.uk: ‘I also enjoy upcycling and completely changing items that I’ve purchased from kilo sales and charity shops, I like having the ability to add more own flare to a clothing item and give it a fresh new look.
‘Some of the items I’ve made have been patch work blazers, cropped tops, boob tube tops and cropped jackets.
‘My favourite items that I’ve upcycled have been my patch work blazer and my maiden boob tube top.’
When it comes to special vintage items, Jo did say that she feels it’s sometimes best ‘to keep it in its original style’.
She added: ‘However, if you feel like it could have a bit of a fresh [look], don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own flare to the item. Whether that’s with patches, pins, dye, bleach or gems.
‘You can add some subtle touches to your clothing to all it to become more modern and fitting to your personal style.
‘It’s a great way of preventing clutter and it inspires you to work with items already in your wardrobe. Sometimes a fresh touch and tweak to a piece of clothing is all it needs in order to inspire you to re-wear it again.’
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