The burning of leftover inventory to preserve brand value is still a common practice in the fashion industry. Other items end up in landfills. But brands are coming up with new ideas to minimize waste and hopefully save the environment.
RE;CODE is a South Korean fashion brand launched in 2012 by Kolon Industries. Under the slogan “This is not just fashion,” the brand aims to encourage conscientious purchasing by upcycling deadstock.
Choi Young-jin, a senior designer at RE;CODE, discussed how the brand took the initiative with its eco-friendly business model. “Our brand came out in 2012, when upcycling was still not a theme well-known to typical domestic consumers,” Choi said during an interview with The Korea Herald. “None of the products here are mass-produced, since our artisans design samples and make finished products (at this place) one at a time.”
Its product lines include the Inventory Collection, which is made from leftover stock that didn’t sell; the Industrial Collection, made from automobile seat covers, air bags and fabric previously used in car interiors; and the Military Collection, made from discarded military parachutes, tents and uniforms.
When customers drop by the studio to bring in items that they no longer wear, the artisans at RE;CODE transform them into unique creations, charging only a repair fee. A pair of pants can be turned into a dress, and various items of clothing can be put together to make a nice apron.
RE;CODE also employs people with intellectual disabilities to help them become self-reliant. Other partners include single mothers and North Korean defectors.
After spreading its message in 2019, reaching customers throughout the world from Bangkok to Berlin through pop-up stores and events, the brand is trying to break stereotypes that have long existed in the fashion industry. RE;CODE is busy encouraging diverse communities to join the movement for a sustainable society.
Designer Park Sun-zoo discussed the brand’s philosophy. “Facing the pandemic situation that we are in now, after a year of hard times, people began rethinking about the Earth, the environment and themselves (humanity) in a new way,” Park explained. “We are preparing for and looking forward to activities like Milan Design Week, where RE;CODE can show more value than as a fashion brand.”
RE;CODE has offline stores in Hannam-dong and Jongno-gu, as well as its main atelier on Nodeulseom. For upcycling services and workshops at the atelier, reservations are required prior to visiting. They can be made through Naver’s reservations website, booking.naver.com/booking/6/bizes/418377.
By Kim Hae-yeon (email@example.com)