Upcycle Your Wardrobe Tips and techniques from fashion designer Brandi Lewis

Brandi Lewis
Brandi Lewis, owner of Syeko Design House | Courtesy of Brandi Lewis


Hailing from Baltimore, designer Brandi Lewis always has her eye tuned to unique materials. She describes her brand “Syeko” as “uniquely, unexpected wearable art inspired by God, glam and extreme art.” The brand itself embraces a category of repurposed, custom garments and accessories. Lewis shared with Baltimore Style her ideas for reinvigorating items from your wardrobe by upcycling them.


What is upcycling? How does it work and what are some examples?

Upcycling is the act of taking a garment or accessory that you’re no longer wearing—like a blazer, a jean jacket, a sweatshirt, a coat or a pair of shoes—and embellishing it with fabric textile paints, spray paints, pins, buttons, brooches, bows, broken jewelry and whatever else you’re inspired to add to the garment. For example, instead of getting rid of your old jean jacket, upcycle it by adding some fabric textile paint or attaching some gold buttons and a few brooches. Add a big bow or various fashion pins to the garment and give it a new look. Take your old sweatshirt and cut the bottom off to make it a crop top or add some old fabric scraps around the border and rock it under your blazer.

Brandi Lewis
Baltimore designer Brandi Lewis is a proponent of sustainable fashion | Photo c/o Brandi Lewis

Do you have any tips when it comes to evaluating your closet at the end of the year? What are items to keep or toss?

I always tell my clients to consider upcycling their garments before they think about tossing them out. Other options that I share with them are to swap garments or donate to thrift stores, charity organizations or churches. I love to keep classic and one-of-a-kind items in my closet because they never go out of style.

How can you make the most of what’s in your closet?

The first thing is to always stay true to your style and what appeals to you. Doing this will help you to have a better connection with your wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to mix and match prints. Pull out your vibrant silk scarf that’s been hiding in your closet and put on some vintage earrings and a classic blazer. Be inspired by trends and colors of the moment. However, the key is adding your own flair to each look.

Where can materials be donated for reuse and recycling? What types of materials can be repurposed, and what other uses might they have?

Places where people can donate for reuse and recycling are local churches , community centers, thrift stores and nonprofit organizations. Newspapers, magazines, clothes, fabrics, paper bags and glass are a few of the things that can be repurposed.

What else should people know about upcycling?

Upcycling is the future of fashion. It’s gaining popularity all around the world as people respond to fashion waste that is destroying our planet. Upcycling is fun, and it allows you to be as creative as you’re inspired to be.

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