Denim is so durable that even when your beloved pair of old jeans start to get a bit saggy, you can still recycle and upcycle the material to create something amazing.
Read on to see some fabulous creations from small businesses across the UK and hear from their owners about what upcycling means to them.
Sunderland-based upcycler MadeBySallyJ has a fantastic, imaginative range of items. Whether it's for children, adults or even dogs, Sally has something special for everyone.
Sally said: "My brand is about reclaiming preloved clothing and reimagining it into unique and quirky items. I mainly work with natural textiles such as denim as they tend to be hardwearing and improve with age. Where possible I repair and restyle but when a piece is beyond repair I remake into smaller items such as bags, dog jackets, bandanas etc."
MAZOONA sells a range of upcycled denim accessories including clutch bags, tote bags as well as cosmetics bags and even pencil cases.
What do you love about working with denim?
Erika, owner of MAZOONA, said: "I fell in love with working with denim. It's strong, versatile, and working from/disassembling denim clothing (mainly jeans in my case) has the benefit of getting a lot of super cool 'ready made' details/textures on my fabrics to start with. I love the fact that it's a good material for fabric manipulation techniques as well; I had already tried mixed media (recycled paper and denim combo for earrings), fabric slashing, painting, dyeing, stamping (like my logo onto fabric scraps).. on some of my bags."
Click here to read a juicier, in-depth interview with Erika.
This is a brilliant creation from TheBobbinCase, an upcycled denim bag that looks both stylish as well as durable and fit for purpose.
How do you find working with denim and using recycled materials?
Julia, owner of TheBobbinCase said: "I’ve only recently started doing them [denim bags] but have really enjoyed it. I’ve been gradually trying to make my products as ecologically sound as I can by using offcuts, buying from small businesses, eco-friendly fabrics, simple designs with as little waste as possible, recycled wadding and fillings etc. It’s not perfect yet but I’m getting there and the upcycled jeans seemed like a good next step. I’m making some more as we speak!"
So, what's next?
"My next step is to find a good source of second-hand jeans preferably ones that aren’t good enough for charity/second-hand but that I could still make some use of and save from landfill. I’m still giving this some thought!"
EverSewEnchanting makes a range of bespoke items including saddle bags, hats and shorts.
We first spotted this fantastic upcycled denim apron that they made from a pair of Levis. A perfect blend of style, comfort and durability.
Lorraine, owner of EverSewEnchanting (we love the pun!), said: "I started upcycling at the beginning of this summer from Scrapped Levi denim jeans and from this I create unique accessories on my Etsy shop.
"If I can make a tiny contribution by upcycling jean fabric into wearable fashion then I am making a positive impact to the sustainability of this planet and in addition show that waste denim can be loved once again."
Bucket hats have made a recent resurgence, and we love the idea of fashioning one out of recycled denim. Just one of many unique items sold by Edinburgh-based nykxCo.
Niki, owner of nykxCo said: "My designs are unique, using quality vintage fabrics, leftover and unwanted textiles to re-imagine into beautiful handmade accessories."
Why did you start your store selling upcycled fashion?
"NykxCo reimagined was born in 2020 through my love of fashion and the environment.
“During the 90’s I saw first hand the growth of ‘fast fashion’, driven by the consumer focusing on cost and not conception. I wanted to develop a brand that would change the unsustainable way we produce accessories and question how we use and dispose of our clothes and textiles!”
Click here and read the full interview with Niki.
Sarah, Delightfully Denim
Delightfully Denim is based in Penshaw. It came about when maker and designer Sarah was looking for a new venture, but wanted to use upcycled clothing. Her store has a super range of items including bags and keyrings, cushion covers and coasters.
"Whether it is making chickens or cushion covers, we have found a way to use fast fashion to our advantage. But we always try and educate our customers about how our business works and why we are passionate about trying to change the world's throw away attitude to clothing."
Click here to read the rest of our chat with Sarah.
TheBrightLite has a great selection of sweaters with unique upcycled denim designs. We love this denim patchwork sweatshirt which is handmade to order.
What does upcycling and preloved fashion mean to you?
Amanda, owner of TheBrightLite said: "I have been buying clothing from second-hand clothing shops and markets since I was a teenager and when I first started learning how to sew, I began going to a clothing upcycling workshop, and this is where it all started. My interest in sustainable clothing grew from an interest into a passion!
"This was more than eight years ago. I regularly buy second-hand clothing to turn into new creations for myself and take pride in wearing clothing that has stood the test of time."
"Learning about how denim is made and the amount of water and energy goes into making it I became keen to use denim as much as possible in my pieces as it is a great fabric to work with. It is hard-wearing and versatile, I have also made a few art collage pieces, the possibilities are endless."
Sara, Dead Lavender
Brighton-based Dead Lavender has an Etsy store full of fantastic embroidered upcycled denim fashion from shorts to dresses as well as tops and knitwear.
Tell us why you started Dead Lavender and how you fell in love with upcycling?
Sara, owner of Dead Lavender, said: "I have loved second-hand and vintage clothing for as long as I can remember, so the idea for Dead Lavender evolved quite naturally in the spring last year."
"To me, upcycling is a way to participate in a more sustainable future. With some careful thought, a forgotten or undesirable item can be given a new lease of life.
"There are so many amazing print designs, fabric textures and colours that are already in existence which have the potential to be upcycled into ‘new’ products - what a waste to send them to landfill!"