Discards become upcycled fashion

Making couture fashion by taking the best of the old and making it new

Jenn Bell is designing upcycled garments.

There’s a trend that is getting a lot a of attention from fashionistas and it’s not from the latest high profile designers. Move over Ralph, Donna and Yves, there is a new game and it is taking the best of what you do and transforming it into something new — sort of.

Jenn Bell is a budding clothing designer who goes dumpster diving, scavenging through thrift stores and garage sales to find those treasures destined for the dump.

She’s seeking out those interesting garments with potential for transformation. She calls it “upcycling” and it is. She takes old and new garments destined for the landfill and creates new one-of-a-kind garments. A regular viewer of Project Runway, Bell started out by using paper a florist threw out to make a paper dress and continued to fuel her passion for fashion with forays into duct tape and recycled fibre dresses.

She particularly likes vintage dresses as she says they are so well made compared to their modern made in Third World counterparts.

“I just don’t understand why people would just throw them away.”

Eco-fashion is a big trend in Vancouver and the city seems to have the leading edge entrepreneurs. Bell is right onto that. The Vancouver store, Twig & Hottie, is interested in her line and she wants to get enough one-of-a-kind pieces together to showcase her work in the store. She has a Facebook page, Discarded Couture, which showcases her work.

“I’m trying to do quality versus quantity,” she said.

She has a seamstress, Patrice Wilson, who sews her garments as she is not yet a sewer. She wants to get some training at the Pacific Academy of Design, but the tuition is $20,000 and this is the way she is raising the money for it.

“Right now it’s more like a hobby, hopefully it will take off,” said Bell.

When Bell isn’t in her work room she is at SEAPARC coaching swimming, which she has done for the past 10 years.

Bell will have her models strutting down the runway showing off her latest creations at the Women’s Wellness Fair at Sooke Harbour House on Sunday, March 4.