The Sustainable Style Revolution: Upcycled Denim Made in New Zealand
In this period of fast fashion awareness, the sustainable fashion industry is making headway with more and more upcycled makers getting attention on social media. With the timeless popularity of jeans, it's good to see some small upcycle brands creating these.
Denim, a durable cotton cloth has long been associated as Workwear before becoming a designer staple in the 80s. But conventional denim manufacturing requires a lot of water as well big amounts of chemicals and energy. When making traditional jeans, water use may exceed a few thousand liters per pair!
Add to that, the cheap overseas, OVER production, mass consumption- which leads to and overwhelming amount of donations that OpShops can't cope with, and you can see how we end up with a huge amount of denim in our landfill.
It is estimated that over 200,000 tons of textile waste heads to our landfill each year.
Bernadette Casey, from the Textile Reuse Programmer, said options for recycling textiles in New Zealand are limited, lack of onshore processing capability means the small amount of textiles that are re-processed are turned into other products, rather than being used to manufacture more clothing. Globally, only 1% of clothing is recycled back into clothing. Click Here to read full article
Hence the need for us to buy second-hand, keep our clothing for longer and repair.
So in this small country of New Zealand, without the ability for clothing to be recycled or processed into usable fiber- upcycling really is the answer!
Heke design is a small brand based on Waiheke Island. We are doing our bit to keep as much textile waste out of the Landfill.
Unsellable and over stocked denim and jeans are collected from Op Shops, cut up, sewn into fabric and completely redesigned into new jeans.
With this production model, upcycling supports a circular economy, and helps reduce the problem of textile waste.
Are upcycled denim jeans expensive?
Remembering that you are buying a small batch handmade item, they can be, but like any fashion brands this price can vary- I have seen some brands in North America sell for as much as $800 US.
And for an upcycled item with a cult following they obviously have their value.
If that is out of your price range though, and you want something unique, handmade and VERY environmentally friendly, heke design makes jeans for under $250 New Zealand!
These can also be custom size and length. Currently offered in a woman's fit and very soon men's sizing will be available.
The long term environmental and social benefits of recycled/ re-purposed denim, and support for small businesses instead of multinational fast fashion brands, really should outweigh any price differences.
Potentially, as the demand for upcycled products increases economies of scale may lead to more competitive pricing.
In today's world where sustainability plays a role in consumer decision making, I'd like to see New Zealand emerge as a leader in eco fashion and have more upcycled, sustainable brands join in with utilizing our textile waste.
By choosing up cycled or re-purposed denim, consumers are not only helping to reduce environmental impact but also support the development of a circular and responsible fashion industry. The future of our wasteful fashion industry lies in the hands of those who recognize the value of recycled materials and the appeal of a 1 of 1 special item of clothing.
New Zealand's involvement in this transformation serves as a testament to the power of making choices in fashion.
To learn more about my upcycling please visit my site.