Project Upcycle 2022


Get ready to stretch those creative muscles!

3S Artspace, in partnership with Recovergirl, invites applications to our annual sustainable design challenge, Project Upcycle: New England Streetwear Edition.

There is more than one path to sustainable fashion. During this year’s challenge, rather than upcycling thrifted garments into a gala-worthy outfit, designers will use end-runs, deadstock, material, and/or excess inventory from some of New England’s most innovative brands to bring us their own fresh take on New England streetwear. Using the diverse communities and varied landscapes of our region as inspiration, we are asking designers to create the designs that we want to wear on repeat- not just on a special occasion.

As always, Project Upcycle is here to help highlight talent, foster connections, encourage creativity, and inspire growth. We want to help designers make their mark in sustainable fashion and develop an audience that follows and supports them well into the future. Equally important, we want to inspire our audience to make creative and considered choices with their wardrobes.

If you are ready to meet other inspiring designers and put your creativity and vision to the test, please apply to join us!


Application Deadline: Friday, June 3, 2022
Designers Announced: Friday, June 24, 2022
Design Competition: Thursday, October 20 - Saturday, October 22, 2022
Project Upcycle Runway Event: Saturday, October 22, 2022


Curious about past years’ challenges? Check out these videos to learn more:

About Project Upcycle

Who is eligible to apply? Designers (and aspiring designers), ages 18+, currently residing in New England, (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI), with less than 5 consecutive years of professional fashion design experience. Everyone from students to self-taught designers to working designers and retirees is enthusiastically encouraged to apply.

What is the challenge? Eight emerging designers are selected to participate in this fast-paced 2-day design challenge. Each designer will design and execute their vision of a New England streetwear look using deadstock fabric and excess materials from New England manufacturers. Prepare yourself for some twists!

The final outfit will be featured in the live Project Upcycle Runway Event where the judges select the top three designs and the audience votes for their favorite.

Where is it held? Project Upcycle takes place at 3S Artspace, in Portsmouth, NH.

When is it? Thursday, October 20 (late afternoon) - Saturday, October 22 (late night), 2022.

Sample Timeline: Thursday: Welcome, Meet the Team, VIP event; Friday: 9am- 9pm Design/Create/Model fittings; Saturday: 9am-2pm Final sewing/fittings. 8 pm Runway Event.

How are designers selected? Applicants are selected by a committee. Each year, 3S seeks designers with vision, skill, creativity, and a desire to challenge themselves (and the status quo) in the spirit of sustainable fashion. If you become a Project Upcycle designer, the designs you create on-site will be judged on execution, creative use of materials, and styling. Detailed guidelines will be provided.

Who are the judges? Four judges will be announced shortly, featuring an elite panel of established design and industry professionals. Past judges have included: Project Runway designers, leading NE design professors, industry designers, etc.

If selected, what would I need to be able to participate? All designers need to bring their own sewing machine and sewing tool kit (scissors, pins, measuring tape, etc.). Back-up machines are available in the event of a break-down.

What about housing? Food? 3S Artspace is committed to providing housing for out-of-town designers for two nights (Thursday and Friday). All meals are provided during your stay.

Is there a prize for the winner? A cash prize will be awarded to the top three designers, as well as to the “audience favorite.” First: $1,500, Second: $1,000, Third: $500, Audience Choice: $500. Prizes come with no strings attached. Use the funds as you wish!