Environmental Icons: In Conversation with Tabby aka Re_considered

27 Jul 2022
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For the second instalment in our series, Environmental Icons, we are talking to Tabby Bunyan, founder of Re_considered, a platform which specialises in all things upcycling and customisation.We sat down to talk all things eco-anxiety, upcycling and taking things one step at a time!

Georgia Taylor-Stidwell: What started your love of sewing and creating?

Tabby Bunyan: I have always been a sewer, since I was 15 I have been interested in making my own clothes. I can’t pinpoint a specific moment this came from but I have always loved working with my hands. My interest in upcycling in particular was a result of the first lockdown taking away my access to fabric shops, I had to use the things I already had.

It is lovely as things grow with me as my style changes, something that I had three years ago as a long dress but now I don’t like wearing can become a pair of floaty trousers, something that suits my style now. Sewing allows your garments to evolve with you. It is undeniable that you are going to fall out of love with some items in your wardrobe but to see the opportunity there and not always need to buy new things has been a great experience. 

GTS: What is the oldest thing in your wardrobe?

TB: I think it has got to be one of the first tops I ever made so it is actually quite badly made! It is this green cropped top that I really struggle to get into as I didn’t think about fastenings! It is made out of a pillowcase that belonged to my grandma and it must now be around 80 years old.

GTS: What prompted you to start Reconsidered? 

TB: During the first lockdown, in March 2020, a lot came to light regarding garment workers’ poor working conditions and there was the Leicester factory scandal. All this combined with fashion really becoming part of the discourse surrounding the climate crisis. At the same time I started personally upcycling and I got involved in a community of people online who were reworking and helping the slow fashion movement. I had previously been a fast fashion addict, every other week I was buying new clothes and all my friends were as well, we didn’t question this as problematic at all. I realised that by upcycling my friends’ clothes they could have this same ‘new clothes’ dopamine rush without having to support the harmful fast-fashion industry. The Re_considered business grew from this. 

Tabby in one of her upcycled designs

I always strive to achieve this sense of joy (that can be achieved and has typically been achieved through the consumption of fast-fashion) in my reworks. I think that in upcycling there is an added extra, there is more gratification as the garment takes on a whole story, when someone asks ‘oh where did you get that?’ they can say ‘well it used to be a tablecloth or a pillowcase’. This story aspect is so important to helping people value their clothes more and wear them more. There is still the instant gratification, that dopamine rush of ‘ooh I have something new to wear’ but I believe with upcycling and with Re_considered pieces it also has a longer and more lasting significance. 

GTS: Do you think mending clothes can impact their emotional significance?

TB: Yes massively, this is what I find so lovely and amazing about upcycling, the emotional significance and the stories which become held in the garment means you care for it more and love it more.

Most things that are given to me to upcycle have huge emotional significance. One girl came to me with a shirt that had belonged to her late-father, she had wanted to wear the shirt but it wasn’t her style. We reworked it into a top that she would wear and this was really powerful for me as it meant she would wear the item and it had such such deep meaning behind it. Even things like a maternity item that doesn’t fit anymore, I had a lady bring me a skirt she had worn lots during her pregnancy and we made it into a top. The emotionality of upcycling is really one of my favourite aspects.

GTS: What is your favourite item you have made or upcycled and why? (please send a photo we would love to see)! 

TB: It’s a pair of dungarees that I made from a pair of William Morris curtains, it is such a recognizable print and usually one that you see on a sofa or curtains. I love wearing it and I had so much fun making them. 

Tabby in her upcycled dungarees

Sometimes I feel like I am in the Sound of Music making my clothes out of curtains! 

GTS: How do you deal with Eco-anxiety? Do you have any tips for those who feel overwhelmed and out of control?

TB: I do experience it, we are bombarded with monumental environmental problems and it is constantly being talked about. It does feel like there is a lot of talk and a lack of action.

When you come out of the sustainable fashion echo chamber and realise that we are not the biggest part of an industry which desperately needs radical change, it does get overwhelming fast. When you get into the granular details of I am upcycling one item of clothing ‘is this going to have an impact’?

You have to take a step back and say I am doing everything I can and the more people I can show, or inspire, the more people I can help with their wardrobes, providing an alternative to buying new. All these little actions add up and I do find some solace in that. Make changes on an individual level. Step by step.

Make sure to follow @re_considered on Instagram to keep up to date with all Tabby’s fabulous designs!