Oatly Protests Fast Fashion With Upcycled Merch
Many vegans and non-vegans alike are familiar with Oatly, a Swedish brand that makes oat milk. As one of the trendiest oat milk brands on the market, it only makes sense that the company would also experiment with tackling the fashion sphere, too. Oatly is testing “ReRuns,” a collection of vintage clothing upcycled into stylish streetwear that doubles as a wearable protest against fast fashion.
Many brands have merch, but even sustainably focused companies often turn to items like newly manufactured T-shirts or tote bags to get their branding out there. Oatly wants to try shaking things up with a line of artsy, statement pieces that are upcycled using clothing that already exists.
“Welcome to our not-so-little experiment in upcycling stuff into merch-like objects that skip the unsustainable cycle of fast-fashion in favor of thoughtfully made pieces as planet-forward as the propaganda they’re covered in,” Oatly says on the ReRuns webpage.
The current collection includes a line of vintage denim jackets with handcrafted designs and messaging on the backs. Oatly partnered with 10 artists (Stephanie Santana, Lindsey Made This, Jessica Warby, Nicole Chui, Ellen Jong, Emma Hall, Danica Pantic, Mary Kate McDevitt, Cymone Wilder and Ann Chen) to create the merchandise, and each piece is selling for $250. At the time of writing, all but two jackets have sold out. All proceeds will go to the Lower Eastside Girls Club, which offers free youth programming in STEM, arts, leadership, and wellness in New York City.
The jackets feature messages like, “Post-Milk Generation,” “Oats are the Future,” “Eat Less Animals” and “Break the Food System.”
But if you didn’t get your hands on the upcycled denim jacket of your dreams, Oatly also has several upcycled vintage T-shirts with graphics like, “Wow No Cow” and “Weekend Vegan” for purchase to show your commitment to a plant-based diet. Each of these shirts sells at cost for $18 to $24. Because the company works with upcycling clothing for its merch, you can select the phrase and size for T-shirts, but each order will vary in color, print, and style.
In time for holiday gifting, Oatly will also release another limited collection of upcycled sweaters with handmade designs from a new cohort of artists.
“Our awesome crew of Oatly evangelists have always been front and center, helping us spread the gospel that plant-based is better for the planet, and we’ve heard from them loud and clear that they want our merch,” said Heidi Hackemer, executive creative director for Oatly North America. “However, it wouldn’t be Oatly if we didn’t find ways to constantly improve and strive to make everything we do and put out into this world, environmentally thoughtful. Through this experiment, we’re able to provide a handful of artists we love a platform to bring their talents to our Post Milk Generation fanbase, while also supporting a remarkable organization and lowering the impact of our merch. We think it’s a win-win-win. But if we’re proven otherwise, well, at least we tried.”
Based in Los Angeles, Paige is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. Aside from writing for EcoWatch, Paige also writes for Insider, HomeAdvisor, Thrillist, EuroCheapo, Eat This, Not That!, and more. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree. When she’s not writing, Paige enjoys decorating her apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee and experimenting in the kitchen (with local, seasonal ingredients, of course!).