Designer believes everything old can be new in fashion

When it comes to fashion, Julia Grieve prefers clothing that upcycles and deconstructs vintage pieces to create garments ready for today’s fashion market.

“I just always loved the idea of being able to have a unique piece of clothing that nobody had,” she said.

In 1995, Grieve, a retired fashion model, launched Preloved, a Toronto-based clothing line inspired by her inner love for fashion and what she learned from living in cities such as Paris, Tokyo and Milan.

“If you were to work with vintage materials and vintage clothing, you’re guaranteed that no one is going to have the exact same outfit as you.”

Grieve started Preloved without the green clothing component. She called herself an “accidental environmentalist.”

“I am learning as fast as the consumer is learning about eco-fashion,” she said. “I find that we get associated very fondly within green fashion, but I can’t call myself an expert.”

Grassroots, an eco-friendly store in Toronto, carries the Preloved line. The clothing outlet carries everything from biodegradable household products to organic clothing. Owner Rob Grand likes the history of Preloved.

“They’re … taking things that people have previously discarded and turning them into really well designed and creative manufactured quality garments,” he said.

Grieve gets her vintage materials from warehouses that sort out used clothing. Typically, the designer will buy from 100 to 100,000 pounds of sweaters a year with wool sweaters being their main fabric.

“We also work with men’s cotton shirts, men’s dress shirts, trench coats, stripe t-shirts (and) bed sheets,” she said. “We buy all the vintage clothing; it comes to us in bails. We open it. We process it and we use what we can use.”

The Beau & Bauble also carries Preloved. Kate Elia appreciates that Preloved attracts consumers of various ages.

“I’ll say from teens right up to women like it,” she said. “It’s kind of a universal feel. … It’s the idea of interacting with the consumers in a different way. I love it.”