Climate Change Champ–Orsola De Castro, Fashion Revolution, “Loved Clothes Last”, by Orsola De Castro

by | Nov 11, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate Change Champion Orsola De Castro, Fashion Revolution, “Loved Clothes Last”, by Orsola De Castro



Meet Orsola de Castro, upcyclist, fashion designer and author. Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value.

She is the co-founder and creative director of Fashion Revolution, an activism movement which works towards a sustainable fashion industry. De Castro has been in the sustainable fashion space for more than 20 years, since founding upcycling brand, From Somewhere, in 1997. In 1997 de Castro started From Somewhere, a fashion label that addressed and repurposed pre-consumer textile waste. From Somewhere’s 100% upcycled collections have sold around the world featured regularly in the international fashion press; collaborations include upcycled collections for Tesco, Speedo and Topshop.

In 2011, Orsola and Filippo founded Reclaim To Wear, an organization that brings designers, producers and distributors to create upcycled capsule collections. Reclaim To Wear collaborations include Livia Firth and Central Saint Martins. ‘Topshop’s Reclaim To Wear’, a collaboration running from 2012 to 2014 in which Topshop reclaimed surplus and excess stock fabric from factories in Turkey, India and the UK to make 3 capsule collections.

De Castro is also author of the 2021 book, Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act. Why does Orsola de Castro matter to us? Fashion is responsible for 10 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of global wastewater, and uses more energy than the aviation and shipping sectors combined. A dump truck filled with clothes gets burned or dumped in a landfill every second. And global fashion also consumes 93 billion metric tons of clean water each year, about half of what Americans drink annually.  

And yet, One survey found that 20 percent of clothing in the US is never worn; in the UK, it is 50 percent.

DEEPER DIVE: Project Help, Columbia Climate School, Fashion Revolution, From Somewhere



Fashion Revolution was founded by Carry Somers and Orsola de Castro in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013.

The 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse occurred on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, where an eight-story commercial building called Rana Plaza collapsed, The  death toll was 1,134. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building. It’s considered the deadliest non-deliberate structural failure accident in modern human history, the deadliest garment-factory disaster in history and the deadliest industrial accident in the history of Bangladesh.

The building’s owners ignored warnings to avoid using the building after cracks had appeared the day before. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.

In response to that, Fashion Revolution’’s vision is A global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.

It does that by conducting research that shines a light on the social and environmental impacts of the global fashion industry, and by highlighting where the industry is moving too slowly and push for faster change. It also works to influence brands and retailers to change through consumer pressure, while also incentivizing and promoting transparency and accountability across supply chains.

According to its website, Fashion Revolution has grown to become the world’s largest fashion activism movement, mobilizing citizens, brands and policymakers through research, education and advocacy.

It says: “We are a global movement of people who make the fashion industry work. We are the people who wear clothes. And we are the people who make them.” Why does Fashion Revolution matter to us? Its manifesto, the preface of which states: “We love fashion. But we don’t want our clothes to exploit people or destroy our planet. We demand radical, revolutionary change.”

DEEPER DIVE: Fashion Revolution, Manifesto



The full title of Orsola de Castro’s book is, Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act. If you had to ask de Castro why she wrote this book, she might tell say Fast fashion leaves behind a trail of human and environmental exploitation. Our wardrobes don’t have to be the finish line; they can be a starting point. We can all care, repair and rewear. Do you accept the challenge?

According to the publisher, this book will equip you with a myriad of ways to mend, rewear and breathe new life into your wardrobe to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. By teaching you to scrutinize your shopping habits and make sustainable purchases, she will inspire you to buy better, care more and reduce your carbon footprint by simply making your loved clothes last longer.

Orsola de Castro is spearheading a global movement calling for change in the fashion industry. After founding Fashion Revolution in 2013, she pioneered a global campaign in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse and became an internationally recognized opinion leader in sustainable fashion.

According to Aja Barber, writer, activist and fashion consultant, “This book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the fashion industry as an outsider and wants direction as to where we go next. The industry is often shrouded in mystery and this book breaks it down in bite size pieces.”

Kenya Hunt, Fashion Director, Grazia UK, said, “An incredibly thoughtful, must-read guide to future-proofing our wardrobes and most importantly the planet […] Loved Clothes Last will change the way you see your wardrobe and how our day to day actions impact the environment.”

DEEPER DIVE: Fashion Revolution, Loved Clothes Last Fanzine, The Book