San Francisco Goodwill and Levi Strauss & Co. Bring Upcycled Denim to Local College

jeans 300x200Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties (CA) celebrated Earth Day at San Francisco State University (SFSU) this year by mending donated Levi’s® jeans. On April 22, the SFSU community had the chance to purchase unworn jeans used during the design review process as part of the first-ever Levi’s mendables sale.

At adjacent sewing machines, SFSU apparel design students mended, hemmed, embellished or otherwise transformed the garments for $5 to $10 each, creating one-of-a-kind looks meant to tell a story of sustainability and style. Celebrity jeans maker, Holy Stitch Founder and SFSU fashion alumnus Julian Dash also worked his magic to give a second life to the discarded denim.

Reviving the lost art of seamstressing, students demonstrated a sustainable alternative to one-time “throwaway” fashion for their fellow students and faculty. Creating new value from textiles that would otherwise be down-cycled, they aided the Goodwill in continuing to reduce waste from local landfills, helping the city of San Francisco in its Zero Waste by 2020 initiative.

Shoppers at Earth Day Mendables Event

“Last year, Goodwill diverted more than 21 million pounds from local landfills,” said Leslie Bilbro, director of donations for the San Francisco Goodwill. “In the past, we might have sold these damaged jeans to textile salvage companies because they were not high enough quality for our stores. Today, we’re taking an innovative approach to harvest more value from these resources—helping San Francisco meet its zero-waste goals while drawing attention to the emerging culture of repair and reuse.”

Longtime Goodwill supporter Levi Strauss & Co. donates its unsellable sample garments to the agency, diverting them from landfill. To maximize the value of these generous donations, the Goodwill promotes reuse and upcycling with a student audience instead of sending the garments to a clothing salvager for shredding.

Goodwill partner SFSU pioneered the idea of incorporating community service into its curriculum. The partnership with Goodwill provides a real-world example of how a new generation is rediscovering the lost art of repair and reuse to live stylishly in a world with limited resources. Proceeds from the mendables sale benefit the student-run Fashion Network Association of SFSU.