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Levi’s Doubles Down on Upcycled Denim with Naomi Osaka

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Four-time Grand Slam singles champion and activist Naomi Osaka can now add denim designer to her resume.

Levi’s announced Tuesday that it is partnering with the 23-year-old tennis superstar, ranked second in the world, to launch a limited-edition collection made of vintage or upcycled denim. Working closely with the Levi’s design team, Osaka created four distinct pieces with silhouettes and design details that capture her sporty yet feminine style as well as her Japanese heritage.

The women’s collection includes two styles of shorts: a vintage 501 jean short embellished with Y2K-worthy crystal fringe cascading down the sides, and a knee-grazing long short with lace-up details on the back made from pairs of upcycled men’s jeans.

The lace-up theme is replicated in a denim bustier made from reworked Levi’s Trucker jackets. The bustier features the classic lines, flap pockets and shank buttons of the iconic Type III Trucker jacket, only in the shape and cut of a traditional corset-style bustier with a lace-up back.

The collection is anchored by a denim kimono with a matching denim obi belt. “I always loved wearing kimonos when I was a kid,” Osaka said. “So, to be able to do it in denim felt really different and a bit unexpected.”

The Levi’s x Naomi Osaka Collaboration will drop on Aug. 24 in the U.S. exclusively on the Levi’s App. The collection will retail for $150-$380.

Vintage and deadstock Levi’s jeans and jackets are a popular canvas for upcycled and repurposed pieces. In May, the brand worked with Italian fashion house Miu Miu on a line of decorated pre-owned denim. The San Francisco denim behemoth also partnered with Scandinavian brand Ganni for a upcycled denim rental program last summer.

Extending the lifespan of garments is in line with Osaka’s Gen Z point of view. “The sustainability aspect was super important to me,” she said. “And I love that every piece in the collection has been recycled or repurposed from old stock.”

Osaka, who is gearing up to return to the court for the Western & Southern Open for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon for mental health reasons, was part of Levi’s 2021 “Beauty of Becoming” campaign that brought to light the stories and journeys of global changemakers. In a Q&A with campaign creator Oge Egbuonu, Osaka spoke about the impact of representation and using her platform for good.

“The youth are the ones that are going to be the future, and they’re the ones that should be speaking up because they’re going to be here long after we’re gone,” she said. “They’re going to have to live with the way the world gets shaped.”

On Monday, Osaka, whose father is Haitian, said she would donate any prize money won from her upcoming matches to support aid relief in Haiti following Sunday’s devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

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