Upcycled Denim Is Picking Up Steam In The Design World

From your living room to your car.

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Of all the materials we engage with daily, denim is probably the most prominent for most. [repetitive use of most] Jeans are a casual staple, with the average woman owning about seven pairs and the average man owning six. With this high level of demand and presence, [is that why it’s negative? by sheer volume? or something to do with its production?] it also makes sense that the sturdy material is one of the most negatively impactful on the environment, accounting for a staggering 2.16 millions tons of waste annually. This hasn’t gone unnoticed, as many fashion brands like RE/Done, ELV, and Reformation have championed the recycled denim movement on the apparel front. It was only a matter of time before the home and lifestyle sectors jumped on board — and that time has come. In recent years, up-cycled denim decor has become increasingly prevalent, innovative, and chic.

A decade or so ago, denim furnishings were met with disdain, categorized as a kitschy DIY project. But, home brands and artisans alike are flipping the script, infusing them with interesting and elevated finishes and details. “Like quilting, our washable Denim Collection is made with a common-sense heritage technique,” explains Ben Hyman, co-founder and CEO of rug label Revival, which debuted its upcycled denim collection in 2022. “What do you do with fabric that can no longer be used for its original purpose? Turn it into something new. Textiles made from other textiles are beautiful because of the history they carry. They operate like a collage, where many things come together to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

The label’s offerings infused a modern geometric aesthetic into the traditional flatweave technique, dubbing its designs as “A little bit of art deco meets Georgia O’Keefe’s Abiquiu casita,” in the original press release. But the beauty of the pieces lies in the fact that a denim essence is still captured in the rich blue woven tapestry, delivering an upscale Americana vibe to home spaces.


Taking a more stripped down approach to upcycled jeans is GreenRow, which currently offers stark white denim sofa covers. Jaimee Seabury, head of GreenRow, says the sustainable label has worked closely with circular design lab The New Denim Project since its inception as a means to “incorporate upcycled materials into our furniture. We worked closely to develop a universal muslin and a cotton denim to help reduce waste.” The clean look of the covers serve as a blank canvas for decor ideas, easily working with a variety of home aesthetics.

And the innovation doesn’t stop at rugs and couch covers. Back in 2019, New Zealand-born designer Sophie Rowley transformed discarded denim into marble-like fixtures including side tables and wall panels, dubbing the project Bahia Denim. Even the car industry is catching on. Most recently, Swedish auto giant Volvo Cars even jumped on the denim bandwagon, incorporating the material into its new electric SUV, the EX30. “Denim carries a true emotional connection across generations, so we saw it as a perfect fit for our newest car” says Rekha Meena, senior design manager of color material and finish. “[...] This material is full of character and exemplifies a new and innovative expression for car buyers.”

Full of character, indeed. If you’re looking to make your living space a bit more sustainable and stylish to boot, shop some of the decor items below.