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Noah sat down with Amira, the ever-creative hands behind up-and-coming upcycling brand TERK. Aiming to tackle the fast-fashion industry using her self-taught sowing skills, Amira gave advice on how to shop consciously while still looking “fresh as fuck !!”
N: Tell me about TERK
A: TERK is an upcycling brand based on using old clothing and revamping it into something new. Changing a jumper into a bag…changing a bag into some new trousers, just allowing the cycle of clothing to go on. Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world and is getting worse, people are stuck at home at the moment with nothing to do except buy clothes and throw out old ones, which half the time aren’t even recycled. It’s our generation the seems to be doing it the most, so I thought “let me think of a way that upcycling can be cool”, a way to save the planet but still look fresh as fuck!
N: That’s our headline right there! So where does the name TERK come from?
A: TERK stands for “To Every Reckless Kid”, so being reckless in your fashion choices, wearing colours that don’t “match” or different patterns. I guess it’s about coming out of social norms which dictate how certain people should dress or look like in a certain environment or workplace, We’re reckless environmentalists.
N: When did you first think of TERK? How did it become the brand it is now?
A: When I was younger I couldn’t always afford new clothes all the time, but I was really into fashion and design. So if I wanted to change what I was wearing instead of buying something new I’d just hand-sow little patches on to jeans and so on, that made me realise that wearing something new doesn’t mean buying new clothes.
After a while, I bought a sewing machine and started receiving compliments and requests for clothes and before I knew it I had a clothing brand! It’s also a method of pushing forward the benefits of slow fashion and encouraging people to just be more environmentally minded when looking at fashion.
N: What are the plans for TERK in the future ?
A: My aim is to use the money earned through the commercial side of TERK to set-up workshops that help educate people on the benefits of upcycling clothes, essentially to encourage them to do what I’m doing with the brand. Teaching people to sow and repair clothing so that our impact on the environment is reduced. I’d love to have a platform which other brands and creatives can then use to benefit themselves, put on little events and gigs with the concept of recycling and reusing at the forefront.
It would be nice to have a space where I can work on my clothes, people are sending me loads of stuff but I’m running out of room! I could then use the space for workshops, but also have it as a place where disadvantaged people can come and pick-up clothes for free.
On average in the west a family get rid of around 30kg of clothing per year and only 15% of that gets recycled, with the rest going into landfill. With the majority of the fashion industry now using synthetic materials, these clothes will take hundreds of years to breakdown. I really want to use TERK to address these issues and have a positive impact.
N: What advice would you give to the average consumer who’s looking to reduce the impact their clothing habits are having on the environment?
A: Shop smarter. I’m not saying stop buying new clothes completely, but you can choose different materials which don’t use as much water or will last longer than your average Primark t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, these products will usually be more expensive but the longevity of these clothes means you will probably end up saving money, plus you can then upcycle them when you get bored!
Shop second-hand and buy off other people. There’s so many platforms these days which makes it so easy, and with a bit of effort you can find some really good pieces. Support local businesses, these brands are more likely to be making the clothes themselves or having them made locally, so you’re not contributing and validating the slave-like conditions found in the production lines of big-name brands.
If you want to get rid of any clothes there are loads of options other than just throwing them away. Find your nearest charity bin, sell bundles of them online, give them away, there’s no excuse! If you don’t want to buy second-hand, at least don’t throw away your clothes.
N: Do you think that the problems with the fast-fashion industry are a part of a wider problem caused by consumerism? It seems like a lot of your advice could be applied to buying anything… not just clothes.
A: For sure, the I think the active decision of being more conscious on the type of clothes your buying will be change the way you view buying anything. I think the consumer culture that has been imprinted in our heads will only be dismantled by slowly changing the way we consider what we consistently buy, and clothing is one of them.