Giving old clothes new life

Craig Lomas
Latest posts by Craig Lomas (see all)

As a teenage student, like most in the same situation, I had desires to own the latest clothes, but not the funds to allow it. It’s not only students that are often stretched to their limit, with fewer jobs offering anything above the minimum wage, its left to savvy shopping to get the latest trends. I found myself as an art/fashion student the trick was to push away from the mainstream and saturated high street, by making my own clothes, or customising.

Fast forward 10 or so years and I have a wardrobe fit to burst (shopping’s exercise right?) and often than not I have buckled into consumerism and often spend obscene amounts of money on clothing. However with the success of programmes like ‘This Old Thing’ on Channel 4, it has opened up the avenue, once again, to customising garments or buying into well-made vintage pieces. We all have that one item in our possession that we think ‘I’ll keep it I might wear it one day’ chances are if you keep using this excuse for banishing it, you will never wear it. However if you look past the clothing’s original intentions and purpose, it could be transformed into a wearable piece.

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A project during my University degree was to select 3 items from a charity shops, all poles apart from their use and fuse them together, to create a new end product. I found this incredibly rewarding and exciting, breathing fresh life into clothing that would most likely end up gracing the back of a pensioner, doing her weekly freezer shop. As an avid pattern cutter I find great intrigue in shapes and how garments fit, however manipulation of these said patterns, can create truly unique one off items. A shirt for example can be beautifully reworked into a skirt or even more obscure a fitted corset. It’s all about thinking outside the box and looking past the garment and looking more to the possibilities for change

Granted not everyone has had a master class in a Winifred Aldrich book, which is where the use of trims and haberdashery can still create a unique point of difference, from its original beginnings. Look back to the 70’s and the punk movement for example. A carefree and anti-establishment attitude was cemented in the look of the times, with ripped shirts, safety pins and zips adorning garments. This evolution of personal expression is still very much current in today’s street style, in the form of such sub-cultures as the Harajuku or Lolita’s girls.


Look at clothing through history and use the old methods of adornment, to re-work your current pieces. An 80’s sequin emblazoned top, can every so easily be transformed into a jacket or kimono style top, to give more shape. The different eras all have key silhouette shapes and it’s often this unique detail that makes them go full circle and look very modern, setting themselves apart from today’s current trends. On a side note I must remind you all that no good will ever come of wearing a shell suit or re-working one, so I’m afraid this piece should be left in the 90’s J

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Vintage and charity shops are great places to bag a bargain and revitalise into something more current and of the minute. The trick is to have the ability to envisage garments past their original aesthetic and get creative. Inspiration is rife in countless fashion journals, but I tend to look to street fashion, to get a better understanding of how others style and create garments. Rather than a fully edited compact 2 piece magazine spread, you allow yourself to open your creative mind to a much wider range of inspiration.


About Craig Lomas

Well where do I start? At the very beginning, like Julie Andrews taught me.I graduated with a degree in Fashion Design in 2009 and have since set up my own bespoke clothing label.Currently working full time as a costume designer.My main passion is buying things I don't need... I WANT!