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Investing in custom-made or upcycled clothing is a great idea but where to start in Vancouver?

These three options will extend the life cycle of your wardrobe.
Close up on hands sewing
In the right creative hands, tired clothing can be given new life. Here are some Vancouver enterprises that take on upcyling projects.

Having clothing upcycled or custom made is a great way to prolong the life of a garment and avoid the cycle of buy, get bored, throw away, repeat.

Custom made clothing that you help design specifically to your taste, translating the image of the perfect outfit in your mind into a fabric reality, will always have a special place in your heart and can be passed onto future generations. And in the same vein, heritage pieces from the closets of relatives or friends can be given new life when put the job into the right creative hands.

Yet it is surprisingly difficult to find a place in Vancouver that has the capacity to take on such a project. It’s not the fault of the establishments; most are understaffed and have had to pivot to focusing solely on alterations that can be turned around quickly and at a higher volume than lengthy from-scratch custom work or tricky remakes.

Additionally, there is a less demand for this nature of service because of the glut of choice available in clothing. Fashion hauls that have been big on social media platforms for 10 years now can make us feel like we’re behind or missing out if we’re not constantly accumulating new items. And fast fashion brands perpetuate the feeling with new collections anywhere from every four to six weeks and, in extreme cases like Zara, twice a week.

For those whose needs extend past an alteration or who are seeking to makeover their wardrobe here are a few options:

DIY

Doing it yourself is intimidating and not always an option if the level of interest, skill, or time isn’t there but for small scale projects and forgiving fabrics this is a great option. The same social media platforms that fuelled the problem are also the antidote. Youtubers like the Sorry Girls have super accessible short project videos that can demonstrate how to upcycle, mend, and cover stains on clothing in inspired ways.

DIY is also something to consider if money is an obstacle because admittedly having patterns made by professionals can get costly.

Simdy’s

Simdy’s has over 30 years of experience and has consultants who are well-versed in both men’s and women’s clothing. Owner and lead pattern designer Simdy Chow has a background in wedding dress design and operated a factory in Hong Kong for 20 years manufacturing high fashion and formal gowns. However, her services extend to bridesmaid, graduate, and casual dresses, as well as work attire and suits and costuming.

Custom projects require an appointment made in advance.

Modernize Tailors

Established in 1913, Modernize Tailors has a long history in Vancouver’s Chinatown offering completely bespoke tailoring services. They are one of the only businesses in Vancouver to offer from-scratch special commissions and their loyal customer base spans generations.

If bringing your own fabric the experts will need to confirm that it is workable. Poor quality or loose fabric might not be salvageable but if it is they can create something beautiful.

Modernize Tailors operates exclusively on an appointment basis and if you can get one the quality is exceptional.

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