Old jeans, new life

Bao Ngoc

ANN/ VIET NAM NEWS – While many brands are struggling to find new sources of materials, there are still many designers who have moved towards the concept of using recycled materials. In Vietnam, recycling old jeans into unique accessories has become a new trend among young people in recent years.

According to Sustain Your Style, a non-profit sustainable fashion organisation, it takes 7,000 litres of water to produce one pair of jeans, equivalent to the amount of water a person can drink in seven to eight years.

Experts have also calculated that after every three wears and one wash, a pair of jeans releases 44 grammes of carbon into the environment. Thus, after four years before going to the landfill, they leave in the environment about 416kg of carbon. In the United States (US) alone, where “jeans culture” is most prevalent, each person owns an average of seven pairs of jeans. Just doing simple multiplications, we will get a huge number of emissions into the environment from these seemingly harmless jeans.

Realising the danger of this problem, Pham Minh Hien, living in Ninh Bình, decided to recycle old jeans in her wardrobe.

Her journey of learning about recycled fashion started in high school. Now, making “mini jeans bags” has become a hobby of Hien.

Yen’s brand has become more stable and brings income to herself as well as benefits to the community. PHOTO: ANN

Each mini bag is completed in about 30 minutes. The source of materials comes from old jeans, seashells or household fabric waste.

“I hope recycling will reduce the amount of jeans that are released into the environment,” Hien said.

“Besides, mini bags made from old jeans are very useful and sturdy. I use them to store my phone, phone charger as well as small cosmetic items.”

Maya Bùi, a 29-year-old tailor living in Hanoi also shares the same idea about reducing jeans fabric. “Since I was in fashion school, I have been taught by my teacher about lossless fashion and sustainable fashion,” she said.

“So in the process of working, I often have ideas to make use of old clothes and use
fabrics optimally.”

A few days ago, Maya’s idea of making a corset from old jeans received hundreds of shares and compliments from friends.

The 29-year-old girl also organised a challenge to sew underwear from pieces of old clothes on her Facebook to spread the message of environmental protection and create joy for everyone during the ongoing pandemic.

In 2012, after graduating with a major in Electronics and Telecommunications, Hanoian Bùi Thi Kim Ngân applied for a full-time job in the capital city. Besides office work, Ngân makes handmade bags at home to satisfy her dream for fashion and earn extra income.

For the years, the young girl had a hard time dealing with depression and medical issues. In 2015, she decided to quit the office job to pursue her dream.

At first, Ngân received orders to make bags from silk and create small bags from old jeans as gifts for customers.

After noticing that old-jeans hand bags were praised by many customers, the 32-year-old girl began to mass produce jeans bags and sell them. With experience as a bag designer, it is not difficult for her to transform old jeans into purses, backpacks and hand bags.

“At first, I planned to make bags from old jeans for fun because I wanted to make full use of excess materials, but I didn’t expect to receive so many orders,” Ngân said.

“From that, I came up with the idea of ‘exchanging six pairs of jeans to get a recycled bag’. This helps me have a stable source of fabric and gets more attention from the online community.”

Kim Ngân’s recycled bag brand has been operating for six years and has become very famous in the “zero waste” community of Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, 26, a former student of the University of Labour and Social Affairs, has also decided to leave bustling Hanoi and return to her hometown in Bac Giang to fulfil her fashion dream.

After two years of research, in 2019, Yen accidentally discovered a very close and creative source of materials – her own old jeans. This type of material creates a very personal and unique look, in addition, they are quite durable and suitable for making handbags or backpacks.

Yen believed that as long as “you know how to recycle old clothes, they are still valuable in another way”.

Up to now, her brand has become more stable and brings income to herself as well as benefits to the community.

Many people, instead of throwing away their old jeans, have come to Yen and hope their old jeans have a “new life”.

“I’m happy to spread the recycling spirit to everyone,” Yen said.