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Denim Jacket by Lovebirds X Smoke Lab: The Delhi-based label’s aesthetic sensibilities of gender neutrality and modern simplicity come together in this collaborative collection, like this jacket, crafted from upcycled, handwoven denim. Its irregular chess patches catch the eye. Available at Lovebirds-Studio.com;  ₹22,000
Denim Jacket by Lovebirds X Smoke Lab: The Delhi-based label’s aesthetic sensibilities of gender neutrality and modern simplicity come together in this collaborative collection, like this jacket, crafted from upcycled, handwoven denim. Its irregular chess patches catch the eye. Available at Lovebirds-Studio.com; 22,000

Denim’s renewed direction

Indian brands are patching up denim scrap to upcycle and create all-new designs

Along with other textiles and fabrics, denim too is getting a new lease of life with upcycling.

There are roughly three kinds of denim scrap—pre-production (what’s left after cutting for large orders), post-production (what’s left after garments have been stitched) and post-consumer, which comprises garments that have been discarded.

Reversible Trench by Insom: A dramatic piece made with upcycled denim. This patchworked trench can be reversed to switch up your look at any moment, with one side that’s plain and the other, tie-dyed. Available at ReFash.in;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>12,000
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Reversible Trench by Insom: A dramatic piece made with upcycled denim. This patchworked trench can be reversed to switch up your look at any moment, with one side that’s plain and the other, tie-dyed. Available at ReFash.in; 12,000


Among the designers who have chosen to focus on denim is Delhi-based Kriti Tula, founder of zero-waste fashion label Doodlage, who uses discarded denim in her designs, with patchwork and embroidery. “Denim is a sturdy material to explore these techniques with," she says. “The textile takes the shape of your body after years of being worn. We work with denim because we understand the implications of how denim is produced and how durable it is." For the problem with this timeless and iconic textile lies in its polluting production process and inefficient use of water and energy.

Patched Tote by Dwij: The classic bag gets an edgy look with shades of indigo-dyed denim patched together. The frayed edges of the patches lend it a casualness, just the way a simple pair of jeans would. Available at DwijProducts.com;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1,199
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Patched Tote by Dwij: The classic bag gets an edgy look with shades of indigo-dyed denim patched together. The frayed edges of the patches lend it a casualness, just the way a simple pair of jeans would. Available at DwijProducts.com; 1,199


It was, in fact, the exposure to such processes that prompted Bengaluru-based designer Neha Celly to launch her own zero-waste label, nece gene, earlier this year. Celly has been working with denim for 15 years, initially as a designer with brands such as Arvind Mills and Madura Garments. In 2013, she set up her own denim research and design firm, Bluehemia. “India is still an upcoming market for designer denim, and there are still only some designers upcycling denim (regularly). Even a company like Arvind Mills, which uses sustainable practices of using recycled wastewater, still produces waste. As a consultant, I suggested we close the loop by (their) lending me their denim scrap," she says.

Wetland Dress by nece gene: A stunning dress constructed from scrap denim, it comprises up to 1,000 pieces in varying hues to make a detailed, textured design. Still under construction, the dress will be available later this year. Available at NeceGene.com;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>30,000
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Wetland Dress by nece gene: A stunning dress constructed from scrap denim, it comprises up to 1,000 pieces in varying hues to make a detailed, textured design. Still under construction, the dress will be available later this year. Available at NeceGene.com; 30,000


Celly uses post-production waste for hard furnishing; for apparel, she’s experimenting with fibres, textures and colours to create ombre effects and 3D appliqueeffects in “high fashion" denim clothes.

Denim Bomber Jacket by Doodlage: Large and block-y, in a patchwork technique, the jacket features upcycled denim cotton in light blue, indigo and black colour blocks, along with minimally embroidered patches. Available at Doodlage.in;  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>5,800
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Denim Bomber Jacket by Doodlage: Large and block-y, in a patchwork technique, the jacket features upcycled denim cotton in light blue, indigo and black colour blocks, along with minimally embroidered patches. Available at Doodlage.in; 5,800


Mumbai-based entrepreneur Soumya Kalluri, who founded Dwij in 2017, makes accessories like bags from pre-production and post-consumer waste, offering totes, backpacks and pouches with coloured checks, frayed edges, patchwork and quilting. “We have optimized the process to know which denim suits which design," says Kalluri.

Mint lists some of the brands and labels that are upcycling denim to great effect.

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