This Student’s Upcycled Designs Go Viral on TikTok

Fashion brands are always finding new ways to upcycle materials, from brands such as Orenda Tribe repurposing vintage wears into brand new pieces, to luxury labels such as Prada releasing a collection of recycled nylon accessories. One of the most interesting parts of the upcycling movement is seeing how brands can turn even the most unlikeliest of textiles into modern ready-to-wear—and Arielle Sidney, a college student in California, is a prime example of this. Her coolest pieces reuse shopping bags to make something extraordinary: On TikTok, she’s shared a jumpsuit made out of Target bags, a dress out of Walmart bags, and even a coat out of Trader Joe’s bags, among others. “Repurposing is very important to me, I see it as sort of a game,” Sidney says. “I’ll look at something old or with no purpose and be like, ‘how can I destroy this nicely?’”

The 22-year-old is currently studying drama and French at the University of California in Irvine, but dabbles in eco-friendly fashion design on the side. Sidney started playing around with a sewing machine last summer during quarantine, and having no formal background in design, she began posting her upcycled creations to TikTok simply for fun. “I didn’t really learn it per se—I just sort of started winging it,” she says.

One of her first designs to go viral was the Ikea bags outfit from last summer, which, coincidentally, was the second garment she ever made. The fitted dress, made out of the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow bags, was complete with a dramatic chapeau to match. Now, Sidney has gained over 90,000 followers on the app, all of whom have become fascinated with her DIY’d looks.

It’s not all bag-lady couture on Sidney’s TikTok page, however. Sidney also makes non-shopping bag outfits, which are often made with upcycled textiles, too. Take this paint-splattered ballgown that she made out of curtains sourced from Goodwill, or this printed ensemble she made that is perfect for TikTok’s renaissance painting trend. She also dabbles in styling videos, in which she puts together fits inspired by movie characters from Harry Potter and more.

Below, Sidney talks how she learned to sew, where she gets ideas for her designs, and what her favorite outfit of all time is. Click the link below to read more…

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