Paint your clothes and redesign your t-shirts: revive your wardrobe with Fashion Revolution

Scarlett Conlon
·7 min read

A week after lockdown began to ease in the UK, Fashion Revolution Week (FRW) kicks off today with a reminder that “back-to-normal” isn’t always best – especially when it comes to the fashion industry.

“Covid was like a giant magnifying lens that showed us very clearly where we keep going wrong as people on this planet,” says Orsola de Castro, founder and global creative director of Fashion Revolution, pointing to exploitation and abuse which, she says, “are rife” in supply chains.

The aim of Fashion Revolution – which de Castro established in 2013 in response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh – is to force the fashion industry to “value people and the planet over growth and profit” as well as educate consumers on the questions to ask about their clothes and how to shop sustainably. “Buying from small businesses and thinking of longevity when it comes to what we already own can make a long-term difference,” she adds.

To help steer people in the right direction, Fashion Open Studio (FOS) – the showcase and mentoring initiative set up by Fashion Revolution as an antidote to fashion week to show the nitty gritty reality of designers’ processes – is holding a series of talks, webinars and workshops over the next seven days. More than 60 designers from 20 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America are gearing up to shed light on their sustainable innovation, local heritage and regenerative business models.

“It’s so rare to have all these diverse voices talking about the impact of the climate crisis, how they are keeping local crafts alive or highlighting local indigenous materials,” says Tamsin Blanchard, curator of FOS. “This is a slice of a utopian planet fashion – an already existing version of the fashion industry that takes responsibility for its impact on the environment, works transparently and collaboratively and treats everyone in the supply chain with respect.”

This week is, say de Castro and Blanchard, all about getting people involved. They want people to post pictures on their social media channels this week with the hashtag #whomademyfabric and to tag the brands whose clothes they are wearing. In addition, there is a raft of digital workshops you can join which will have you turning your shower mat into a handbag, remaking your old T-shirts and finger-knitting in no time.

“Much of the discussion around fashion and sustainability can be alienating to people and by bringing them into the world of the designer’s studio, we hope that they can engage with some big issues in a tangible way,” says Blanchard.

Here’s a rundown of what you can get involved with and when…

Who? About A Worker: Create your own linen pencil case

What? Paris-based creative factory About A Worker, whose work revolves around ensuring the voices of garment workers are heard, will show you how to make a pencil case – which could double up as a toiletry case – using European linen.

When and where? Monday 19 Apr, 10:00 – 17:00 CEST on Instagram @fash_rev_france

Register for the session here

Who? Lydia Bolton: Remaking your T-shirts

What? The London-based designer, famed for unpicking second-hand clothes she finds in charity shops to make her new collections, will present a step-by-step class showing you how to make new tops from old T-shirts

When and where? Monday 19 Apr, 12:00 – 13:00 BST on Zoom

Register for the session here

Clara Chu: From bath mats to handbags – fashioning household objects

What? Have you got earplugs, old bath mats, baking sheets, pegs or cable ties hanging around? Designer Clara Chu makes super cool bags and accessories from things you think you’re finished with. In this session she shows you how.

When and where? Tuesday 20 Apr, 14:00 – 14:45 BST on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Alice Dansey-Wright: Painting at home

What? Artist Alice Dansey-Wright started putting her paintbrush to her old clothes to give them a new lease of life when she couldn’t afford to buy new. In this class, she will show you how to upcycle your clothes – as well as cover stains – with hand-drawn designs to make them last a bit longer in your wardrobe.

When and where? Wednesday 21 Apr, 10:00 – 11:30 BST – Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Toktam Hemmati: Lovely waste

What? Fashion and textile designer Toktam Hemmati will show you how to turn left-over and waste fabric into a tapestry – which can also be worn as a dress. She will also showcase her new collection inspired by Iranian geometry with hand-woven fabrics from the eastern province of Khorasan.

When and where? Thursday 22 Apr, 18:00 – 21:35 on Instagram @aassttiinn and the website

Register for the session here

Who? Jesse Lee: DIY workshop with Jesse and his mom

What? Award-winning upcycling designer Jesse Lee has enlisted his mum to show you several stitching techniques that will help you to mend your own clothes as well as make new ones.

When and where? Friday 23 Apr, 15:00 – 22:05 GMT+8 on Instagram @leepocheung

Register for the session here

Who: ReJean: How to make the Coalesce Zero Tote Bag

What? Siobhan from ReJean, which makes gender-neutral clothes from 100% reclaimed fabrics, is going to show you how to make the brand’s sold-out Coalesce patchwork tote bag from scraps of material, which can be purchased online before the event if you don’t have your own.

When and where? Friday 23 Apr, 12:00 – 14:00 on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Sabinna: How to turn your pre-loved clothes into accessories

What? This conscious lifestyle brand, founded by Sabinna Rachimova, champions small-scale production and this session will show you how to make a crochet bag out of any garment you own by cutting it up and knotting strips together.

When and where? Friday 23 Apr, 17:00 – 17:45 BST on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Atelier M/A: Make your own recycled coaster

What? From their studio in Osaka, Atelier M/A designers Masato Koide and Azusa Koide, famed for their repurposed lifestyle goods, will show you how to make coasters by bonding cloth, peels, threads, plastic shopping bags, packing materials, paper, and plants.

When and where? Saturday 24 Apr, 10:00 – 16:30 GMT+9 on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Rahemur Rahman x Aranya: The home of a natural dyer

What? Designer Rahemur Rahman and an artisan from Fairtrade movement Aranya will give a live demonstration and guided workshop showing how to perfect madder dye technique and shibori patterns on an old T-shirt or garment you own. A package is available to pre-order or you can have fun with your own beetroot and red cabbage.

When? Sunday 25 Apr, 15:00 – 16:30 GMT+6 on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Michelle Lowe-Holder: Crafting a reversable upcycled collier

What? Upcycled accessories expert Michelle Lowe-Holder will show you how to make a collier – a cross between a necklace and a choker – from leftover ribbons, buttons, old fabrics and anything else floating around your sewing box.

When and where? Sunday 25 Apr, 11:00 – 12:00 BST on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Katie Jones: Patch it – making mini crochet sticker to repair your favourite piece!

What? Crochet designer Katie Jones, who runs her colourful crochet brand with her mum, Annie, gives a beginner’s guide to making crochet patches to cover up holes, stains, or simply to jazz up an existing garment. You will learn how to hook a hole as well as basic stitches.

When and where? Sunday 25 Apr, 12:00 – 13:00 BST on Zoom

Register for the session here

Who? Olivia Rubens: Repurposing, mending Your knits and finger knitting

What? You might know that yarn is used to make a T-shirt, but do you know how to use old T-shirts to get yarn? Award-winning responsible designer Olivia Rubens will show you how– as well as how to use your fingers to knit and how to fill holes in old jumpers to make them feel like new again.

When and where? Sunday 25 Apr, 16:00 – 20:00 BST on YouTube Live

Register for the session here

To sign up to Fashion Open Studio, visit