With sustainability now at the forefront of many shoppers’ minds, reworked clothing has become a great alternative for the environmentally-conscious shopper
RWRK Studio is redefining sustainable fashion amassing a large social media following, most notably for their clear shopping bag kit which allows customers to transform designer shopping bags into a reusable tote where they may have previously been discarded.
Shift spoke to Farouk Braimoh, the founder of RWRK Studio, to talk about his journey in the fashion industry, RWRK’s ethos and current projects.
Can you give our readers a brief introduction to yourself and how you got into fashion, is it a passion of yours, and how/if your background shaped RWRK?
“I’ve always been into fashion from a young age but never thought I would be running a brand of my own. My perspective of the fashion industry has always been that it is an oversaturated market where only a few new brands make it and a lot of ideas get recycled, so this was the last industry I considered starting a business in. I have always preferred being a consumer of fashion and using it to express my personality. That was enough for me. I got into fashion properly when I started university and started exploring new music with friends and that started to inspire my fashion style. Discovering new artists during the SoundCloud era – Chance the Rapper, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi and more really helped to shape my fashion sense and from then on my interest in fashion began to evolve”.
“Fast forward to 2019, I landed an opportunity to work at Burberry as a sales and visual merchandiser assistant and soon after we went into a pandemic. As a result of this, in 2020 I got to witness firsthand just how much overproduction happens within the luxury fashion industry. Burberry had so much backlog of products from old seasons as well as a massive backlog of defective items that they could not sell at all. This sparked an opportunity for me to potentially create something that could add value to the fashion ecosystem through up-cycling. The idea was exciting for me because it’s a business model that could make a positive impact on the current climate and also a different angle to what we know fashion to be. From there I started exploring the world of up-cycling and eventually created RWRK STUDIO.”
So what is RWRK’s ethos/USP? Can you give us a brief overview of what your aims are for the brand.
“My aim with RWRK STUDIO is to redefine sustainable fashion and up-cycling, demonstrating that luxury and environmental consciousness can seamlessly coexist. Up-cycling is an operationally challenging business to scale, it takes a lot more time and money than traditional garment production because each item is handmade and unique. Our USP comes in our ability to scale our operation whilst producing creative, and high-quality up-cycled products that not only captivate our customers with the design but also stand as a testament to our commitment to sustainability.”
Why is up-cycling important to you and the fashion industry? Could we all be doing more?
“Up-cycling is important to me because as an entrepreneur I aim to always create purposeful things and make a positive impact in the world. It’s motivating waking up knowing I’m working on building something that will be impactful. Up-cycling has existed in the fashion industry since the 1980/90’s so it’s nothing new. However, fashion houses now have no choice but to conform to new sustainable legislation and also produce more eco-friendly products due society is becoming more eco-conscious. Up-cycling is another pillar that should be explored to keep more clothes in the consumption loop and away from landfills. Not as attractive to brands compared to resale and recycling due to its labour intensiveness but that’s the narrative we are trying to change at RWRK STUDIO.”
What products are you currently selling and what are you interested in selling?
“Most of our current sales are custom orders. People from our community DM us on socials with requests to up-cycle their pieces, for example upcycling an LV duffle bag into some watch straps and a crossbody bag.”
“We are working on a limited dust bag collection at the moment, turning designer dust bags into a unisex puffer jacket. This is an exciting project because we are able to get our community involved by sharing designs with them and also allowing them to send their dust bags to our studio to be up-cycled.”
Are you currently working on any projects? What should we be looking out for from you in the future?
“We have a few partnerships coming up that we are looking to explore, we’ll be creating limited collections as a result of those partnerships so stay up to date by following us on our socials @rwrkstudio.”