Reconstruction is the process of making new clothes from previously worn garments or preformed products. Today, we consume 60 percent more clothes than we did 10 years ago. Designers, unleash your creativity and reconstruct used clothing into ‘new’ garments. Be creative – reconstruct before you discard.


 By Gary Harvey

Designer and Fashion Director of 125 Magazine

“Reconstruction is about creating something new and desirable from something old and unwanted.”

After 20 years of working in the fashion industry, I’ve seen the amount of textiles and clothing waste first-hand and my sustainable fashion collections are a reaction to this. Mass consumerist culture and fast fashion have changed our relationship with clothing. Fashion has become a fast moving consumer good that is ‘in one season and out the next’ and as a result we consume 60 percent more clothes today than we did 10 years ago. Gone are the days of previous generations who learnt to cherish, respect, repair and recycle their clothing. Instead, vast amounts of good quality clothing are sent to landfill every day.

Reconstruction is the process where designers can reconstruct old and unwanted clothing to make something new and desirable. The environmental benefits of reconstruction are immense. When you consider the Earth’s limited supply of natural resources, we simply cannot sustain our current rates of consumption as at some point resources will run out. Therefore, at some point recycling and reconstruction will not be an elective choice, but it will become a necessity.

I have worked as a creative director and fashion designer for the past 20 years. Six years ago I started my own collection, called ‘Eco Couture’, which recontextualizes and transforms familiar everyday items into couture-inspired dresses.

My primary goal as a fashion designer is to amaze and inspire people with my collections by making each silhouette and design unique. The fundamental art of reconstruction is selecting interesting items and creating unique combinations that add value. My cutting and construction techniques are inspired by vintage couture and each component is hand selected. I carefully combine individual garments and vintage textiles, which I drape and re-sew together to create one harmonious piece from multiple different garments.

My secondary message as a fashion designer is about the politics of garment waste and recycling. Everything I use in my dresses is 100 percent recycled. The success of my collections has been overwhelming. I’ve been invited to show my collections at fashion weeks around the world including London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin. My dresses have been exhibited in some of the world’s best museums, including The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

My top tips to reconstruction

1. Style and fashion should inform your decision making

2. Select garments that work and hang well together

3. Make sure your colours complement each other

4. Use a good pattern or consider draping directly onto the body

5. Use quality construction techniques to ensure a good finish


Top tips from the pros

Watch our reconstruction design tutorial by Zhang Na here.


Comme des Garcons
Gary Harvey
Joann Berman
Johanna Ho
Junky Styling 
Robert Cary-Williams
The Yesterdayskin
Zhang Na