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The Financial Upside of Upcycled Denim

Whether it’s reprocessed deadstock from a warehouse or reclaimed jeans procured through buy-back schemes, new products made from existing denim will be a source of growth and opportunity for brands and retailers. 

A new report by Allied Market Research said the global upcycled denim products market garnered $392.5 million in 2021 and is estimated to reach $838.6 million by 2031. 

Post-pandemic drivers like heightened consumer awareness for sustainable and durable fashion and brands being resourceful in the types of raw materials they source are factors in the market’s growth. Vintage and Y2K-inspired trends—from patchwork constructions to pieced garments—are fueling demand for the upcycled aesthetic as well, leading to multiple avenues for growth. 

Based on price point, the mass segment accounted for the highest share in 2021 and contributed to more than two-thirds of the global upcycled denim products market. Allied Market said it is expected to maintain its lead in terms of revenue during the forecast period.

Upcycled capsule collections are a continuous source of newness in the mass category. Lucky Brand dabbled in repurposed denim last year with two drops. Reformation makes upcycled patchwork jeans, while Levi’s has upcycled its denim in collaborations with Barbie Ferreira, Naomi Osaka and more. 

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Reworked denim from past seasons was the focal point of Swedish fast-fashion retailer Gina Tricot’s collection called “Seams Like New.” Launched last month, the collection was produced by a local textile studio, XV Production, and tapped into the buzziest Gen Z trends like vests, maxi skirts and denim rosettes. 

Gina Tricot

However, the premium segment is on track to see the greatest growth at 8.2 percent during the forecast period, the report states. Brands like London-based E.L.V. Denim, Los Angeles-based EB Denim and Milan-based Blue of a Kind are leading this growth. 

Re/Done, which kindled the commercialization of upcycled denim when it launched in 2014 by repurposing Levi’s jeans, recently introduced men’s and opened a store in Paris. At London Fashion Week last month, Romanian designer Ancuta Sarca collaborated with Lee to repurpose its deadstock denim into bralettes and skirts. 

Overall, the report said Europe held the largest share of upcycled denim in 2021 and is projected to maintain its share. 

Premium price points lend themselves to specialty stores, which the report said accounts for the two-fifths of the global upcycled denim products market. However, online channels are forecast to grow at the highest CAGR of 8.2 percent during the period.

Growth opportunities expand beyond apparel. Based on product type, the home goods segment held the highest share in 2021, accounting for more than half of the global upcycled denim products market, according to the report. 

The category is expected to continue its “leadership status” as a rising number of brands takes steps to curb textile pollution. Consumers are inclined towards environmentally friendly home goods such as quilts mats, baskets, pouches, rugs, cushion covers, and others, the report stated.

This taste for artisanal products is sparking interest in upcycled denim toys as well, the report said.