Wearing self-drafted jeans recut from men's jeans. Upcycled denim. Upcycled jeans. Upcycled fashion.

Tucson Chapter 1 : The Dawn of SOLSTICE, reclaimed denim

Lifestyle Style

It’s a brand new year, and though we’re still flush with winter, when I look outside my window all I can see are the bluest skies and sun for days. After nine years in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve picked up my whole life (cat included) and moved to Tucson, Arizona. It’s with this move that I’m excited to announce that in February I’ll be launching a line of reclaimed denim, called Solstice.

So many people have asked me why Tucson? And all I can say is the landscape immediately spoke to me. I couldn’t be happier with this decision.

Tucson. Cholla cacti forest.
Cholla cacti close up.

Wait, denim line?

How did I get started making jeans? Some of you might remember back in the autumn when I made a pair of jeans for myself from men’s jeans I found on the street and posted them on Instagram. This was a huge moment! I was actually coming home from the fabric store with denim to make myself a pair of jeans from scratch when inspiration struck.

Upcycled jeans made from men's jeans. Upcycled denim. Upcycled fashion.

There’s something powerful about working with denim. Growing up I always believed that would be the ultimate challenge would be making jeans. The idea of it seemed like a mountain a single person couldn’t climb. Jeans had all these components, metal rivits and buttons, odd pockets, and it took me a long time to realize that making jeans is not that hard. Part of this comes down to gender. A few years ago I was part of a pop-up with a denim tailor, and found myself floored when the media reporting on the event described him as a tailor and me as a seamstress- even though I was doing more alterations and custom fit work than he did. I had this misconception that sewing denim required special tools women didn’t know how to use, and I’m embarrassed to admit as a woman and a feminist that I internalized that this meant I couldn’t do it.

Wearing upcycled jeans made from men's jeans. Upcycled denim. Upcycled fashion.
These jeans were once men’s jeans, destined for a landfill. No more.
Upcycled jeans made from men's jeans, balancing on a pipe next to a terra cotta mural.

Then all these indie pattern companies began designing patterns for jeans, which was amazing to see. These women literally made the idea of sewing jeans safe and accessible to the home sewer. I started tinkering around with jeans again, cutting them up, making overalls– remember that? And began to dream about making my own jeans from scratch. Then I did, and thought, wait, really? This was what I thought only men could do? Cue hundreds of years of feminist ancestors laughing hysterically.

Denim? It’s really not that difficult. So I started to draft my own patterns based on styles I love that I have a hard time finding in the stores. When I stumbled upon those men’s jeans on the street, that was just the tip of the iceberg. I began to think about how much denim I could save from landfills by recutting it with my own designs and turning it into styles you and me would actually want to wear. And thus, the beginnings of Solstice were born.

Don’t fret, this site isn’t going anywhere, Solstice will be sold through Salvage & Stitch, as well as on Etsy.

Solstice Values

Upcycled jeans side view, close up.
Each pair of jeans will be constructed from reclaimed denim, out of-style men’s jeans with the pockets moved up and over, the fly and yoke kept in tact.

The solstice evokes renewal. A season might end, but through the solstice, the world spins us into a new cycle. The lifecycle of a pair of jeans might end with style, but we recut and stitch them into new jeans. I believe in the dawning of a new season of slow fashion, where we renew our values toward the materials we put on our body and refuse to settle for anything less than ethical and sustainable. It’s important to me to celebrate the natural world by choosing materials that evolved from nature: reclaimed 100% cotton denim and ethically-sourced organic cotton thread. I invite you to partake in our journey because together we can ensure these precious commodities live up to their potential: beautifully designed upcycled clothing and home goods to last through the seasons. 

It wouldn’t be my kind of business, however, if I didn’t share my secrets with the masses. I don’t think design should ever exist in a vacuum of secrets, and so just as I promised on Instagram, I will definitely be making a tutorial for how to upcycle men’s jeans on your own. The way I see it, all you DIYers like me would probably find a way to make these jeans on your own anyway and I’m happy to share the upcycling wealth. Next week or the week after, expect a full tutorial on how to make your own jeans. I plan to post most upcycled designs that I plan to sell here from overalls to skirts over time.

Finally, I wish everyone a positive new year full of renewal, creativity, and abundance.

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