It’s almost too easy to take for granted the way clothing and apparel can affect the environment. After all, they aren’t completely made from plastic, though some are made from synthetic non-biodegradable fibers. Textile, however, uses a lot of water, energy, and toxic chemicals, and the denim material that makes up our favorite jeans is one of those culprits. Given how many of us go through dozens of clothes a year or just how many unsold clothes are made annually, the potential for textile to overrun landfills is frighteningly high. Of course, we can always recycle them, but few people and companies actually do that. Fortunately, there is also a rising trend of upcycling used products or material waste, like this startup that turns fashionable jeans into fashionable sunglasses.
Designer: Jack Spencer (Mosevic)
Denim has unique material and visual properties that make it an interesting ingredient in many products or artworks that aren’t related to clothing. The unique patterns and rough texture of denim make it easily distinguishable among other textiles, so anything that “wears” it will make one immediately think of jeans. As it turns out, it’s also possible to turn denim into other objects with the right mix of ingredients that make it almost as tough as plastic but exponentially more eco-friendly.
Mosevic was born from a desire to reduce the negative impact of wasted denim material on the environment, even by just a little bit. Just like how layers of carbon fibers mixed with resin have become a common material used in engineering, the “Shades of Denim” collection is made from layers of waste denim infused with bio-resin and then pressed to become a solid structure. The resulting material is then machined into the individual parts that make up the eyewear and then connected with specially-designed metal reinforcements.
The resulting “Solid Denim” material retains many of the desirable properties of denim, like the patterns of cotton fibers formed when cutting through the material, as well as the texture and appearance of denim. However, unlike typical denim, these pieces are finished with hard natural wax that makes them resistant to water and oils, such as those on your skin or sunscreen. For all intents and purposes, these sunglasses are like your typical shades, except that they look like designer accessories because of their unique flair.
The Mosevic sunglasses give old jeans and waste denim a new home and delay their eventual fate in landfills. That said, the entire process isn’t yet completely sustainable, both in an environmental way and in business terms. The sunglasses are handmade in small batches, a process that takes up to two weeks to finish. Fortunately, there are plans to scale up and make the process more efficient for larger numbers, which ultimately translates to more denim material being upcycled.
Given the amount of denim used, however, it still wouldn’t put a dent in the textile waste problem. Every little bit counts, though, and the use of textile in this manner could spark the imagination and creativity of other designers to come up with ways to upcycle materials and transform them into something new and something beautiful.