American denim icon Levi’s®️ has continually evolved its clothing to keep up with the demands of style-conscious customers while being mindful of its environmental impact. That means making better choices as a company, like sourcing more sustainable materials and finding ways to use less natural resources. So what's more sustainable than repurposing an old garment in your closet and transforming it into something unique and one-of-a-kind?
To truly embrace this DIY spirit of creativity, Highsnobiety teamed up with Levi’s®️ and asked several artists and designers in our world to reimagine a few sustainable Levi’s®️ styles — including sneaker customizer Phillip Leyesa, street tailor Makayla Wray, and design duo Kevin Emerson and Tony Tafuro. They were given carte blanche to rework each Levi’s®️ piece in their own signature techniques.
For those who follow us on social media, we're also hosting an exclusive giveaway on @highsnobietystyle where commenters can enter to win one of these fire pieces. So take a look at each design below for some serious style inspiration and get a glimpse inside their creative process.
Phillip Leyesa (@philllllthy)
"When I create something like this, I like to use existing garments to make something new. Upcycling scrap materials means less waste and a perfect excuse to use them for patchwork designs. I put the jeans in front of me and start laying down the patches in a way that looks balanced and aesthetically appealing. Once I have the layout, I pin them down and take a photo with my phone (my memory isn't the best). At this point, my brain is mentally exhausted and a nice break is needed. Once I'm clocked back in, I grab my needle and thread and hand sew the patches one by one onto the denim. My work is heavily influenced by Japanese mending techniques — some hints of sashiko make up the fine details in my custom Levi's piece." — Phillip Leyesa
Makayla Wray (@m.a.w.studio)
New York City-based designer and tailor Makayla Wray often works with cyclists and skaters who blow out their jeans way too much, so she explores creative solutions to repair them — like a daisy patchwork placement on the crotch area of these Loose Straight Women's Jeans.
"Sustainability is extremely important to me. I worked in manufacturing for a long time so I know first hand the amount of waste factories and design studios produce. As a designer I’m always aware of the waste I produce from making a product and think about how I could reuse materials.
I approached this project more as a designer and thought about how I could provide a solution ahead of the problems that most denim eventually face (rips and tears in the worn-in areas). The daisy is my favorite flower — growing up in Pittsburgh there was a program where artists painted flowers over boarded up abandoned homes. So it’s something I picked up and used in my work over the years." — Makayla Wray
Kevin Emerson (@emersin) / Tony Tafuro (@ohareyoufat)
"We started with a light wash trucker jacket. Tony created around 30 unique patches for the jacket, making works on different canvas he had in his studio from paintings and other projects. I worked the pigment in by hand, using darker tones with highlights of orange and purple, to set a background. We then laid the colorful patches out together, creating a textured composition that was sewn in-house. Both our experience making things and also our experience working together made this come together naturally." — Kevin Emerson
"Sustainability is a pretty important part of my process. I use every material until it’s totally depleted. It’s in that final moment I can really find a new and unique use that would otherwise be overlooked/disregarded. I make all one-of-a-kind garments, save a lot of scrap canvas, open markers to use the felt when they’re dry, and at the end of my day, I’ll mix my paint to form new colors and save for the next day. A lot of my work has and will remain sustainable." — Tony Tafuro