The Factors Influencing the Growth of Upcycling Businesses

Nowadays, there is a growing concern for the environment particularly regarding resource availability and waste volumes and their hazardous effects accentuated by the consumer culture. As is well known, up until the 19th-century people cherished and took care of their possessions carefully particularly their garments. However, soon after, a new type of pattern of consumption replaced the traditional long-term engagement with products. This new pattern’s most important characteristics are mass production, exchangeability, replaceability, reduction in quality, and promotion of throwing-away mentality. Also, with the emergence of the consumer culture many previously important and beneficial skills related to maintenance and repair were now out of focus.

A Shift in Social Awareness

The revival of the upcycling trends to address environmental challenges occurred along with a rise in environmental awareness. Upcycling is a process in which products and materials, such as clothing that are no longer in use or are about to be disposed of, are repaired, reused, refurbished, repurposed, upgraded, and remanufactured. This creative process adds value to the composing elements. Upcycling trend creates a more resource-efficient society and increases the interest in the circular economy which attracts the attention of mainstream companies, start-up SMEs, and creative industries. Upcycling is a way to encourage sustainable consumer behavior, increase the quality and lifespan of products and counteract the planned and premature obsolescence trend, reduce waste, and create employment opportunities.

Factors Associated With Upcycling Value Chain

The fact is that upcycling necessitates systemic changes to the structure of linear fashion industries such as fast fashion which offers the customer/user a low product value as a result of their focus on fast, cheap, and low-quality production that promotes easy disposal or replacement.

Upcycling practices are typically small-scale operations that are run in niches. Several factors present challenges to sustainable fashion industries including upcycling trends such as:

  • Challenges related to supplying an adequate amount of used materials with relatively good quality
  • Storing used materials for later upcycling
  • The cost of renting premises
  • Redesigning, as a time-consuming activity that is not usually accounted for in the price
  • Because of the added cost of accessories, upcycled products could have a high price which can be a hindrance to this business model’s success
  • The existing difficulties regarding designing and adopting a profitable business model for the upcycling of low-price products
  • Marketing of one-off upcycled items
  • Preparing and maintaining a space for work
  • The necessity of hiring skilled specialists and providing equipment and tools
  • The lukewarm interest of consumers in upcycled products due to distrust in the products’ quality and usability
  • The small range of garment sizes that would inevitably result in catering to the needs of only a small group of consumers

In the next blog, you will find an extensive analysis and list of the challenges upcycling businesses face.

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