The Influence of Different Actors on Upcycling

Upcycling business models face many different challenges that hinder their progression or could potentially altogether put a stop to their existence. Ever since the pandemic, there has been a growing awareness regarding the impact of garment production on the environment as perhaps the next most important problem that humanity faces, and many movements and protests have been formed to that effect.

Key Actors and Issues in the Upcycling Revolution

The effects of global warming have already begun to manifest at an alarming rate, and this has moved many into seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint on the environment. Upcycling is one such movement in the fashion industry that is meant to reduce our negative impact on the environment.

However, this particular movement is still facing many different problems regarding supplies of suitable materials for upcycling business, increasing the amount of buying and selling, and finding ways to encourage buying upcycled products. Furthermore, it is the influence of the various key actors that has the most effect on the success and failure of an upcycling business. Some examples of relevant actors across the upcycling value chain are as follows:       

  • Suppliers
  • upcycling designers and makers
  • retailers
  • consumers
  • research networks
  • public authorities
  • industries
  • supporting organizations

Achieving Sustainable Growth in the Upcycling Industry

Several success factors play an important role in ensuring a stable flow of supply of raw material with appropriate quality, the longevity of upcycled products, and successful business in general like:

  • Favorable consumer attitudes toward upcycled products
  • Awareness regarding the importance of upcycling
  • Targeting a specific group of consumers to scale up upcycling
  • Finance and business management such as obtaining different types of grants and loans, and ensuring the existence of favorable conditions for acquiring equipment
  • Gaining the support of online marketplaces and offline traditional physical stores can lead to increased visibility and lead to a competitive advantage
  • Ensuring the high quality of used materials
  • Possibility to rent or lease professional tools and securing work facilities
  • Sharing skills and expertise by creating and maintaining networks among upcycling entrepreneurs
  • Gaining access to large volumes of discarded products through collaboration with large-scale companies
  • Timeless designs and high-quality material

Challenges for Upcycling Businesses

Material Suppliers

Some challenges for material suppliers to source materials are as follows:

  • Apparent lack of availability of materials
  • Complex proposed legislations
  • Shortage of fundings like loans and grants
  • Risks and financial implications
  • Perception toward upcycling

Upcycling Designers

Some challenges for upcycling designers to produce upcycled products are as follows:

  • The apparent shortage of affordable resources such as space, time, equipment, skills, and materials
  • Overpriced marketing
  • Low quality and quantity of materials
  • Lack of motivation to boost business
  • Consumers’ negative attitude toward upcycled products


Some challenges for retailers to sell upcycled products are as follows:

  • The apparent shortage of suitable marketing resources
  • Outreach of upcycled products
  • Consumers’ attitudes toward upcycled products
  • Financial barriers
  • Availability of high quality upcycled products


Some challenges influencing consumers to avoid buying upcycled products are as follows:

  • Availability of high-quality products
  • Availability of reasonably priced products
  • Accessibility of products
  • Positive attitudes toward upcycled products

Success Factors for Upcycling Businesses 

Material Suppliers

Some success factors for material suppliers in providing the necessary material are as follows:

  • Obtaining financial support
  • Legislative support
  • Raising awareness for material donation

Upcycling Designers

Some success factors for upcycling designers in producing upcycled products are as follows:

  • Availability of vital resources like skilled staff, high-quality equipment, and materials
  • Obtaining financial support like loans and grants for workspace, marketing, and training skilled professionals
  • Extended marketing of upcycled products


Some success factors for retailers to sell upcycled products are as follows:

  • Effective marketing
  • Consumer awareness
  • Improved quality of upcycled products


Some success factors influencing consumers’ desire to buy upcycled products are as follows:

  • Sufficient awareness and positive attitude toward upcycled products
  • Availability of good quality upcycled products to better the purchasing experience
  • Reasonable price of upcycled products

As can be seen, there are several linked factors acting like dominoes that can make or break an upcycling business. The necessary conditions related to each of these factors need to be met so that an upcycling business could thrive.

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