Bristol Upcycling

The UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, CLIC Sargent, gives Weekend an inside look at its innovative upcycled clothing range, Fix Up Look Sharp, writes Natalie Banyard.

Frugal fashionistas are loving CLIC Sargent’s stylish, dynamic and on-trend upcycled clothing range, Fix Up Look Sharp, created by a talented Bristol-based designer. The new fashion line boasts vibrant, innovative designs which raise money for the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

9253520-largeThe charity’s forward-thinking clothing label, created using donated stock such as curtains, bed sheets and other unwanted fabric, has been designed and produced by fashion graduate Ruth Strugnell, who is also deputy manager of CLIC Sargent’s shop on Bristol’s Gloucester Road.

In Fix Up Look Sharp, Ruth has combined her passions for fashion, recycling and raising money for charity. The designer, who hails from Devon, studied fashion at Bath Spa University before moving to Bristol and volunteering at CLIC Sargent’s charity shop on Gloucester Road three years ago.

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Ruth says: “I have always been interested in fashion and recycling garments, and in between uni and working at CLIC Sargent I would buy pieces from charity shops and upcycle them and people always commented on what I was wearing.

“When I joined CLIC Sargent, I noticed there were some items that didn’t sell because they were a bit tired looking, and also that we got some really great bits of fabric in that we didn’t really know what to do with, so I had the idea to start upcycling them, creating different designs and giving them a new lease of life.”

When the role of deputy manager at the Gloucester Road shop came up, Ruth applied. In the interview, Ruth was asked what she could bring to the shop and the charity and she outlined her plan to upcycle some of the more forlorn donations.

She not only got the job, but was given free reign to set to work on some of the store’s donated clothing.

Upcycled crop sweatshirt with purple and pink flower heart patch.

Upcycled crop sweatshirt with purple and pink flower heart patch.

Her efforts were soon noticed by senior staff. They loved how Ruth was tapping into the local market and attracting younger, non-traditional charity shoppers and so allowed her time to get creative and gave her some money for equipment.

“I started taking pieces home and working on them in my front room,” Ruth recalls. “It was a success, so we upgraded to a studio and launched the label, Fix Up Look Sharp, in August 2012. We started off just selling it in the shop before taking it to Glastonbury in summer 2013 and then opening a pop-up shop in Cabot Circus. Last October we launched it online and it has proved massively popular.”

The bold, handmade pieces for men and women include edgy sweatshirts, denim shirts with a twist, kaleidoscopic dungarees and cute dresses.

“I love creating things from scratch, taking fabric from donated bed sheets or curtains, and turning them into something completely different, like dungarees or jumpsuits. It’s a really satisfying way to work.

Upcycled short sleeved denim and grey flannel shirt

Upcycled short sleeved denim and grey flannel shirt

“The look is fairly casual streetwear, with a Bristol style to it,” enthuses Ruth. “It’s attracting a lot of people, but our main target market is the 16 to 25 age group. It’s proving very popular.”

People have responded very positively to Ruth’s creations – what’s not to love about a range of ethical, sustainable fashion that looks great and helps a very worthy cause?

The clothes might be a bit more expensive than traditional charity shop items, but shoppers appreciate the fact that a lot of thought, time and work has gone into them and every single piece is unique.

The range has also helped reach and engage with the young people that CLIC Sargent is there to support.

“The reaction has been extraordinarily positive and I couldn’t be happier,” beams Ruth. “Fix Up Look Sharp encourages innovative, responsible and creative fashion and will generate much-needed funds for CLIC Sargent, which works tirelessly to help young cancer patients get the most out of life.”

All items can be purchased from the dedicated online store, fuls.clicsargent.org.uk

Source: Bristol Post