It’s no secret that ReJean are obsessed with denim – it’s right there in the name! With sustainability currently at the forefront of the discussion and the new wave of sustainable fashion brands popping up everywhere, you might be wondering why we’ve chosen to make this one textile the entire focus of our brand and ethos; in short, why denim?
In the past, we’ve touched upon our sustainability credentials but here we’d like to focus on the significance of our favourite fabric and shed a bit of light on ReJean’s origin story.
Siobhan’s interest in denim started with her first job after graduating with a degree in Fashion from Manchester Uni – as a tailor in the Levi’s shop In Regent Street, London. She then started working for a vintage brand who had their own upcycled range; after cutting so many pairs of jeans into shorts and hot-pants and seeing the legs discarded and sent to landfill, on top of witnessing the sheer amount of 2nd hand denim arriving in the store from overseas, the seed of ReJean was planted.
“Having turned her back on a career in commercial tailoring and theatrical costume to build a small enterprise focused entirely on recycling and repair, Siobhan’s a great example of the accountability and transparency she espouses. “
Waste in the denim industry is a serious concern. It takes 7000 litres of water to produce just one pair of jeans and the dyes used to produce the classic indigo shade we all associate with denim are incredibly polluting. Denim is typically made from cotton fibres; although a natural fibre, cotton is very resource intensive to grow and requires harmful pesticides. Some denim brands have developed lines incorporating more sustainable fibres, such as hemp and Tencel, but these are still niche products that haven’t fully penetrated the global market. Denim’s characteristic twill weave makes it a very hard-wearing fabric – in fact, it was originally developed for use in workwear, worn by railway workers and labourers – which makes the idea of it being discarded even more infuriating. Why can’t denim scraps, or jeans no longer fit to be worn, just be repaired, re-used and repurposed, when there is so much potential use left in the fabric? We’ve touched on how you, as the wearer, can extend the life of your denim garments in a previous post. Just by washing less, spot cleaning stains and occasionally handwashing areas as needed will significantly extend the life of your jeans and infact your whole wardrobe. Denim looks great when repaired, the sashiko & boro stitch techniques work especially well. Extending the life of your clothing through repair is a revolutionary act, it adds value and instantly renders the garment unique to you the wearer. Repair is an art form and can be as visible or invisible as you wish!
While only working with pre-used materials can pose its own challenges, these limitations can birth creativity. Siobhan incorporates the unique properties of each pair of jeans into her designs and allows the imperfections found in the material to inform the end product; belt loops become hanger loops, “ghost pockets” become a key design feature and different washes come together to create a palette unique to each jacket. Siobhan tries to celebrate the previous life of the garment through these details. She does not follow the conventional process of sketching or drawing up designs in advance; each jacket is an intuitive response to the materials she sees in front of her.
She starts by sorting preloved denim garments (usually jeans) into different colourways and washes, usually starting with any unusual colours (white, khaki, red) as they are the most fun to work with. Although unusual colours are always an exciting prospect, it’s the traditional blue and indigo shades that make up the backbone of ReJean’s products and creating a palette from these numerous subtle variations is a welcome challenge. After the garments have been sorted, they are unpicked and unravelled into flat pieces before being reconstructed into entirely new, one-of-a-kind piece of clothing.
This approach is carried over to ReJean’s patchwork bags, where scraps leftover from constructing our signature jackets are reworked into unique artisanal pieces incorporating every shade of denim imaginable, making each bag a total one-off. Like the jackets, these come about through Siobhan intuitively responding to the materials available to her. Which is your favourite?
ReJean is unique among “up-cycled” brands in that all our products are constructed from scratch, as opposed to the “customized” or “reworked” pieces often seen in the sustainable fashion market. This allows us to deliver a product that reads as a piece of contemporary fashion, not just a gimmick. We feel sustainable fashion should fit seamlessly into your wardrobe and, as our pieces are unisex, be accessible to everyone. We strongly believe that denim is timeless and will always be relevant to our customers’ lives, so we also offer a custom jacket service that allows you to commission a bespoke piece that’s perfectly tailored to your personal style and needs. With this service, you can truly create an heirloom piece that will become a lifelong wardrobe staple – with Christmas on the horizon, this would also make a perfect gift for anyone who is passionate about sustainability or who simply loves denim! For examples of previous styles, have a look at our Instagram. Our aim is always to showcase a high-end product that exceeds the expectations of what can be produced with pre-loved textiles.
As well as championing upcycled fashion and the use of 2nd hand textiles, the ReJean brand is dedicated to keeping as many unwanted garments out of landfill as possible and promoting in-house, slow methods of production. All our products are designed and manufactured, from start to finish, in Glasgow. Our hardware and labels are sourced from local businesses and all our unwanted jeans are sourced from warehouses within the UK, minimizing our carbon footprint.
We hope this post has shed some light on ReJean and the principles behind the brand. Although we’re extremely proud of our products and everything the brand has accomplished so far, we’re excited to see what the future holds!