Denim gets a second life with stylish recycles

Fashion from recycled jeans
Repurposed denim jackets designed by Tiana Gallagher for Gull + Marie.
(Joseph Bradshaw / Gull + Marie)

There’s just no telling how many hours of effort jeans companies have put in trying to get the perfect faded denim, that combination of wear, washes and whiskering that’s so prized. Now some of them are turning to a surplus of already existing well-worn denim as the not-so-raw material for new or repurposed garments


About: With more worn Levi’s 501 jeans from the ‘50s to the ‘90s discarded every year, there’s an almost inexhaustible supply of not-so-raw material for L.A.-based women’s brand Re/Dun. Sourced from “rag houses” from all over America, the jeans are taken apart and reworked in two silhouettes, a relaxed straight leg and a straight skinny, that make the natural aging and wear a design element.

The lowdown: It’s the brainchild of industry veteran Sean Barron, who launched Joie, among other brands, and Jamie Mazur, known for Underground Denim, a business that sells premium denim on college campuses. It’s easy to imagine that Mazur also gets input from his fiancee, Victoria’s Secret supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio


Price tag: Styles start at about $230

Purchase: Online store at


A.P.C. Butler


About: French company A.P.C.'s jeans are a classic among aficionados and, for those who can’t wait to break in their own pair, owner Jean Touitou introduced the Butler program in 2008. Customers can trade in their worn raw denim New and Petit Standard and New Cure styles for a new pair at half the retail price. After the original owner inscribes the jeans with his initials, A.P.C. then mends and washes them before they reach the sales floor.

The lowdown: “Not every pair of A.P.C. raw denim jeans is ready to become a Butler,” says the company’s website with typical Gallic understatement. Detailed with photos of the “right” kind of wear that’s prized, there’s an application to fill out and submit with photos of prospective denim candidates. If previously washed in anything but Woolite or, quelle horreur, subjected to a spin cycle, you’re out of luck.

Price tag: $275

Purchase: Only available at A.P.C. stores, including their new L.A. location at 8420 Melrose Place, (323) 508-4700.


Gull + Marie

About: Designer Tiana Gallagher takes one-of-a-kind vintage denim jackets, shirts and shorts and trims them with panels of fabrics she finds as close as downtown L.A. and as far away as Mexico and Thailand. With selections for men, women, children and babies, the whole family can pick up on her beachy SoCal vibe.

The lowdown: Gallagher started small with a shop on Etsy, but, after losing her job in reality TV last year, she’s thrown herself into the her denim business and landed in several Venice Beach stores as well as the curated market Artists & Fleas that opened in the arts district this summer. She sources her repurposed denim at vintage and consignment shops, but she’ll also customize a client’s own favorite piece. And, yes, she’s always loved denim jackets. “I have one from middle school that I still wear,” she says.


Price tag: Adult jackets, $90

Purchase: Firefly, the Golden State and Gotta Have it, all in Venice Beach. Online shop: