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Upcycling: Swedish Pop-Up Turns Fashion Into Food

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The upcycling trend continues to evolve and grow in new, fascinating and unexpected ways with this latest bonkers, but brilliant activation from Sweden. Outdoor apparel brand Houdini Sportswear wanted to prove just how natural their clothes are. So they turned them into food. With the help of McCann Stockholm they also created a unique pop up restaurant experience that had Stockholm's foodies clamouring for a table.

The brand prides itself on its sustainable credentials. Worn out sportswear is collected at any Houdini store and if it can be repaired, Houdini will fix it without extra charge. When it’s completely beyond saving, however, they will use it to make new clothes, or, in this particular case, food. Since Houdini's clothes are made from natural materials only, it was possible to break them down to use them as edible ingredients. The worn-out garments were placed in a compost in November 2016, with the help of Gunnar Eriksson, one of Scandinavia’s leading composting experts. It took about six months for the clothes to completely break down and turn into its original substances: carbon dioxide, water and fertilising substances.

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From this soil, Houdini grew vegetables and herbs that famous Chef Sebastian Thureson turned into the world’s first vegetarian fine-dining experience grown from old sportswear. In April 2017, people were invited to book a seat for the much-anticipated Houdini dinner (a four course vegetarian fine dining meal) at Agrikultur Restaurant in Stockholm and seats were booked in a matter of hours. It's a genuinely fresh idea, and whilst I understand that the food itself was just grown from the soil the clothing was broken down into, not literally made from it, the idea and the implementation of it remain pretty special and definitely worth talking about.

Chef Sebastian Thureson, said: “This project was a unique one, I have to say. Houdini has a certain honesty to them and the way they make their clothes. When I created the menu for the dinner I wanted to capture the fact that it is coming from clothes, but also give that honest feeling to every dish. In the end, that rhymes well with how I want to cook in my job.”

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Eva Karlsson, CEO of Houdini Sportswear, said: “Our vision is as simple today as it was when we first launched - we want to maximize everyone’s outdoor experience without having a negative environmental impact on our planet. By growing vegetables from worn out garments, we want to show how beautiful it can be when we manage to close the loop. The Houdini Menu is so spot on in everything we believe in.”

Adam Kerj, CCO at McCann Nordics, added: “We are so proud of this project. Houdini is such an ambitious, entrepreneurially driven and transparent company, devoted to reducing their impact on the environment, with the Houdini Menu being the ultimate proof of all their passion and knowledge. To have a Swedish company that makes 100% biodegradable performance sportswear is pretty inspiring. Everyone involved in this project has been amazing.”

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Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.

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