Stretching the jean pool

2011-09-16 09:12

There’s an idiom that goes “it’s the best thing since sliced bread”. However, when it comes to fashion, that idiom should be reinterpreted as “it’s the best thing since denim jeans”.

This staple of the fashion diet is the one item most people wear until it’s shredded – and they still refuse to throw it away.

Danica Lepen, brand manager and designer at Marion & Lindie, says: “Denim has emotional connotations for many people and letting go is never easy. The best thing to do is to find a way to reuse it.”

But there are ways to recycle that beloved old pair buried in your closet.

This year, the organisers of South African Fashion Week, in keeping with their theme of recycling, challenged students from various fashion schools to enter the Denim to Dress competition, where they could create couture pieces from old pairs of jeans.

Savannah Erasmus from SA Fashion Week says that the challenge took into account that new materials are difficult to come by in the fashion industry.

“Recycling materials is a very important part of the fashion industry as it encourages the designers to create unique textiles out of existing material.

“We don’t have easy access to new materials as the rest of the fashion world. Denim never goes out of fashion, so it made sense to focus on the material.”

This month, 14 finalists were chosen and their garments will go on display at the SA Fashion Week Winter Collections from September 23 to 25.

The overall winner will be announced on October 1.

Says Lepen: “I love how the students reused the denim. They’ve literally reinvented it to where it doesn’t resemble the old denim any more.”

Marion & Lindie is offering one of the winners a three-month internship.

Says Lepen: “A few years ago, my former business partner, Jacques (van der Watt of Black Coffee), made me a beautiful denim carpet. Denim is a durable material that lasts. I still have the carpet today.”

Menswear designer Ole Ledimo, who is also the competition judge, believes there are many things you can do with old denim.

“It’s a very versatile material. All it takes is a little imagination and you can turn denim into jewellery, bed linen, cushion covers, chair and couch upholstery, wall art and many other things.

“Just play around with the jeans,” he says.

» SA Fashion Week takes place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, from September 23 to 25

» For more denim ideas, visit citypress.co.za

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