Guide to Upcycled Denim

This season, upcycled denim is enjoying a renaissance thanks to fashion power house, Givenchy. But we’ve always loved a little denim DIY. Here is our guide to upcycled denim this Spring.

If someone told you that they don’t own a blazer, you might be surprised. Same goes if someone told you that they had never owned a trench coat. But if someone admitted that they had never owned a pair of jeans, face it, that would probably blow your mind. Jeans are, for most, a reliable sartorial friend. Don’t we all own a pair in some form or other? This comfortable yet extremely resistant fabric (apart from leather, it’s probably the one that will last the best) has been there for you since your early days. Raise your hand if you came across your mom’s/aunt’s/sister’s or dad’s jeans and tried them on? Trends are not made to last forever in the sense that they change during the years however when it comes to denim, they always come back. That pair of vintage jeans, whether they be baggy, a relaxed fit, a 70’s flare, or a skinny high waist, will stand the test of time. The trends for this Spring Summer season were pretty clear – it’s all about denim. But this time, designers are upcycling.

Image: @ELVDenim

While historians still debate the birthplace of denim, your pair of jeans has been around for a while. Levi Strauss holds the claim of ‘inventing’ them. Pairing this robust cotton fabric with the signature indigo colour, in the early 20th-century denim was adopted as the preferred workwear fabric choice. RE/DONE, arguably the “first luxury upcycled denim label’, was born online and grown as an e-commerce brand. They handpick, cut, and re-purpose vintage Levi’s. In the UK, E.L.V Denim, founded by Stylist Anna Foster, is every Fashion influencers first choice for spliced up vintage denim. For something a little more avant garde, Ksenia Schnaider creates the hippest pieces using thrifted denim.

Image: Givenchy SS20

When choosing pre-loved jeans, you can find them in charity shops, on Depop or your local jumble sale.  However the chances of finding the perfect pair are lower, meaning an equally low price. You can still get some true gems, so thrifting is still a smart choice. Both for your wallet and for the planet. But denim showed its versatility even on the high fashion, couture catwalk. Honourable mention goes to Givenchy’s SS 2020 collection, designed by Claire Weight Keller. The British designer created upcycled denim pieces, combining the highest couture craftsmanship, with minimal fresh design. In this 90s inspired collection, titled “NY Paris 1993”, she juxtaposed reminiscences of her early years at Calvin Klein in NY and her frequent travels to Paris. Combining the two opposite approaches to fashion at that time, the result is a balance between couture and feminine details. Denim is reborn in a high fashion context, and boy does it look good. Celine brought an ode to denim on the runway: vintage rock n roll style, obviously. Isabel Marant is also a denim aficionado, but Givenchy stood out for the sustainability policies and the awareness of its environmental footprint.

The upcycled denim has been transformed into skirts, coats and culottes. Old pairs of jeans have been reworked to give life to this collection, and the vintage denim. This means that every piece is unique and is actually in line with the high fashion identity. Its wearability is in line with a ready to wear collection. 

We have chosen a few options from hyper-conscious brands: if you never considered denim as an investment piece, take in mind its longevity. And if they’re (understandably) too expensive, your thrift shop is probably having in store your next fashion find. All it takes is a pair of scissors and a little imagination.

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