Inspired by campaigners like Greta Thunberg, Ilaria Galeota wants help people give their clothes a second life
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Ilaria Galeota’s upcycling project melds her passion for fashion and concern for the environment.
The success of the upcycling label she launched in February 2019 has taken Ilaria Galeota by surprise. The Luxembourg native, whose parents are both Italian, says commissions have been flooding in since she first posted a picture on social media of a Nike sweater that she customised with an embroidered flower. “I didn’t want to wear it, because everyone had the same sweater. But I thought if I add my own little touch, my personal detail, maybe it’ll just stand out a little more.”
The Reworked by Ilaria label is little more than a side project for now, and one that will have the brakes put on while Ilaria attends university in Brussels, where she has just started studying “mainly languages and political sciences”. But she says her goal is to eventually create a sustainable business with ethical and eco-friendly standards that contrast with those of fast fashion. “I’m inspired by campaigners like Greta Thunberg... and I know that the fast fashion industry is, I think, the second most polluting industry,” says the confident 20-year old. “I want to help people give their clothes a second life instead of throwing them away and contributing to environmental pollution.”
Sewing was something Ilaria only picked up again in 2019 while looking for a distraction after suffering a broken heart--“that sounds a little dramatic,” she says now with a wry smile. She had actually started to take a real interest in clothes making at the age of 10 when she attended sewing lessons for a couple of years. “It was just very natural since I have this big Italian family and all the women know how to sew, knit, embroider... do anything with their hands.”
A French lady in her local village was offering lessons, and Ilaria’s parents were very supportive. “I was the only child that didn’t have a hobby like the other kids. They all did sports or music. I was just really focused on school, so my parents were just glad that I was doing something.”
At that age, Ilaria had ambitions to be a fashion designer. That is a career path that may still happen, but she has so far eschewed studying fashion at university. “I would like one day to maybe take a course in fashion marketing, but not right now.”
So last year she took her sewing machine out of the closet and found some embroidery thread and the inspiration to create her own upcycled clothes. As demand grew, she printed her own business cards and has received plenty of positive feedback from satisfied customers.
On the back of her upcycling work, Ilaria has also had the thrill of designing costumes for the recent BGT theatre production of “David’s Redhaired Death”, which ran for four performances at the Kinoler in Kahler in September. It was the first time she had designed for a show, though she had been involved in the theatre while at school at the Lycée Michel Rodange, where she was in a group taught by BGT founder Tony Kingston.
She enjoyed the freedom that Kingston gave her as well as the collaborative effort of working with actors Cindy Bloes and Lina Peller and assistant director Tiara Partsch--all of whom are around the same age as Ilaria. “We went from being acquaintances to being friends, which was cool.”