Three Brands Making Upcycling Über Cool

Marine Layer's Mike and Adam

Marine Layer’s Mike and Adam

Forget your mental image of eco-fashion: Raw-hemmed, itchy hemp or misshapen one-size-fits-most tunics, this is about super-stylish glasses, buttery-soft iPad cases, surfer-chic shirts and slick sportswear. Made out of environmentally sustainable, upcycled materials, these are some seriously guilt-free purchases. Continuing our week-long celebration of Earth Day, we took a closer look at the upcycling trend for taking existing materials, cast-offs and by-products and turning them into enviable, utterly wearable items.

Not just for inventive hipsters, upcycling — the process of taking used goods or waste materials and turning them into something that is often better than the original — is definitely moving closer to mainstream manufacturing. That’s great news for our environment and, it turns out, pretty sweet for our closets too! We’ve highlighted a few of our new favorites that are catching our eye here at Fashion Trends Daily.

Marine Layer Venice

Marine Layer Venice

Marine Layer

Michael Natenshon is the brains behind Marine Layer, an aprés-surf and laid-back lounge wear label out of San Francisco.  “I was originally in finance but I had a few favorite shirts from college that I’d worn to death,” said Natenshon. “My girlfriend at the time said, ‘these are pretty gross’ and she was right, but they were broken in and soft and fit perfectly and I couldn’t find anything like that in stores, so I thought I’d try and make them myself.”

After some research, Michael developed a supersoft modal fabric made from recycled beechwood. He also ensured the clothes were made locally in California. Then, in a triple-whammy move, he began offering customers a free repair service for anything they purchased. A shirt from Marine Layer could be a shirt for life!

“We’re working on a macro level,” said Natenshon. “As opposed to big box retailers who encourage disposable fashion, where people buy stuff that’s made overseas incredibly cheaply. It’s lower quality but they don’t care because it’s $12 from H&M. But the environmental impact of something like that is not sustainable.”

Luckily for Angelenos, Marine Layer just opened their newest store on Venice’s trend Abbott Kinney. They have been inundated with customers, despite the fact that they never market themselves.

“I think people in Los Angeles appreciate our environmental awareness and that all our stuff is made in California,” adds Nathanshon. “We’ve been doing really well and we’re beyond happy.”

Marine Layer is located at 1144 Abbott Kinney, in Venice. For more information, visit

Looptworks Tiki Case

Looptworks Tiki Case


If you’re in the market for workout clothes, a great utility bag or a cool new case for your tablet, Looptworks has it all.

Scott Hamlin and Gary Peck founded the Oregon-based company after working together at a big sportswear brand and deciding they wanted to make a difference to the  wasteful manufacturing process.

“I’d been working at big multi-national brands,” Hamlin said, “and everybody was trying to ‘out-eco’ each other. They were creating organic cotton this and recycled poly that and bamboo and soy materials. But I realized the system it was going into was broken. An average of about 30% of materials that go into a standard manufacturing process end up getting thrown away.”

Scott and Gary had seen mountains of excess materials waiting to be incinerated in factories, so in 2010 they were inspired to make their own line out of leftovers.

Looptworks apparel

Looptworks apparel

Looptworks offers relaxed tees and our personal faves: neoprene accessories. Neoprene is of course super hot right now, but Scott and Gary have been using it way head of the fashion pack.

“We realized leftover neoprene from wetsuits is usually incinerated, which is very toxic,” adds Hamlin, “so we decided we could make phone and tablet cases from it and they’ve been very popular.”

Their newest offering is the Tiki tablet case. “It’s made from reused scraps of leather we got from a belt maker,” said Hamlin. “It holds your phone, your tablet and your ear-buds, because that’s all you really need to be mobile.”

It sounds like a perfect accessory solution. We want!

For more information, visit

Vinylize frames

Vinylize frames


In case you were thinking upcycling stopped at fabrics and leather, check out Vinylize: Glasses made out of – wait for it – vinyl records. We were stunned when we spotted these on our stylist friend Barbra Horowitz – they looked so good we immediately had to know where they were from.

Based in Budapest, one of the guys behind Vinylize, Zack Tipton (AKA Julio Eyeglassias), explains how the idea came to be.

Vinylize frames

Vinylize frames

“I was in the family garage which was my workshop and I was testing different plastics to make glasses from,” said Tipton. “It wasn’t going very well, then I looked in the far corner and spotted my father’s old record collection. Then it came to me: Let’s try vinyl!”

Vinylize glasses are hipster magic, heavy and dark-framed and the grooved material adds a certain unique quality.

“Vinylize was founded in 2002 on the principles of making quality glasses from recycled materials,” said Tipton, “and the use of old records has given the collection a distinctive look. The frames are big, thick and rugged and the grooves are an integral part of the design. The project serves to remind people to reuse, recycle and conserve.”

These glasses are such a great talking point – you’ll be promoting upcycling and meeting new people wherever you go. It’s a win-win.

For more information and a full list of stores, visit

Images courtesy Marine Layer, Looptworks and Vinylize

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