At our Bangalore office, we recently got a new work table from Ubyld. I looked at the sturdy wood table and couches and automatically assumed that they’d cost us quite a bit.
And then I found out that it was made from upcycled pinewood, and super affordable! Most of the furniture from Ubyld is DIY. The table in the office had been put together by someone from our team!
It got me thinking: if there are sustainable products that don’t cost as much as their less environment-friendly counterparts on the market, why aren’t we buying them exclusively? It might make sense if upcycled products aren’t as beautiful or functional, but they are.
Here are a few gorgeous examples:
This is an upcycling fashion brand founded by Karishma Shahani, and her clothes are stunning. She makes stilettos from second-hand sneakers and jackets from plastic bags, in her quest to show that you can take junk and turn it into legit style.
An upcycled sack bag from the collection.
Source: Ka-Sha | Facebook
Her collection also repurposes old clothes, with crop tops from old tees and Benarasi saree borders for skirt hems. Ka-Sha apparel is also handcrafted and hand dyed.
This is a high-fashion streetwear brand that uses discarded fabric and industrial waste material to create some seriously stylish threads. No two Doodlage pieces are the same, so if you value exclusivity, this is a great guilt-free way to get it.
The founder, Kriti Tula, was inspired by the discarded fabric she saw during her internship at an export house. Her designs are full of life, with striking patterns and colours. And, even better, the brand tries to function on a zero-waste policy. Every cast off during post production is put back into use to make new pieces.
Ecowings makes waterproof, sturdy, durable accessories, from tire tubes.
Yup. Tire tubes.
They fashion the material into export-quality wallets, sling bags, belts, and laptop cases. They end up looking great, have a classy, leather-like aesthetic, and last for a long, long time.
4. Goli Soda
This is where you go when you want sustainable lifestyle products or accessories that are super bright and quirky.
Goli Soda is an aggregator of upcycling brands across India. They have a brick-and-mortar store in Chennai, as well as an online store. You can buy everything from notebooks made of cork and coasters from motherboards to milk-packet purses, and stationery from elephant dung.
Goli Soda’s aim is to make sustainability cool, and they do that by only working with brands that have the same goal-brands like Haathi Chaap, Kyra, Green The Gap, and Accidental Art.
5. Paper Melon
Another brand that makes super funky, colorful products, Paper Melon jewellery is made of discarded paper.
The designer, Devi Chand, incorporates everything from newspaper to old greeting cards into her pretty jewellery. She grew up making gift boxes from match boxes, went to NIFT, and worked at a design firm before quitting to follow her passion for paper craft.
Look how pretty!
No machinery and very few tools are used to make Paper Melon products.
Palmyra is a furniture brand that makes furniture and home decor products from wood waste.
My favorite is their candle stands made from stairway spindles and column capitals.
They have mirrors made from teak Rajasthani window jali frames and rosewood portrait frames, ridiculously beautiful coffee tables made from carved Burma wood roofs, and console tables made from vintage, painted, rosewood doors.
The designers try to retain as much of the wood’s original look as possible. Their console table, for example, still has the distressed paint that was on the original door frame.
If you like the look of antique furniture and old wood carvings, this is porn. I can’t stop staring.
A bedside table made from an antique teak cash box.
These are only few of the Indian upcycling brands that have started up in the last few years. The trend is picking up in India, and it’s about time. If you can have beautiful products that are guilt-free, great for the environment, and come with their own long life story, why would you buy anything else?!
Do you have any favorite upcycling brands that aren’t on this list? Let me know in the comments!