Antithesis of Fast Fashion

Recycling unwanted denim rags to create a Premium Paper is the antithesis of Fast Fashion – an embodiment of the three fundamental principles of Quality, Community, and Eco-Conciousness

London’s only craft jeans maker, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, is working with Baddeley Brothers and Frogmore Paper Mill to create a new sustainable fashion statement – recycled denim swing tags.

Founder Bilgehan “Han” Ates and his community of makers have three principles which have guided the creation of the tags; quality, community and eco-consciousness. Seeking a recycled paper that could be used to make swing tags for items in their Kings Cross shop, they collaborated with Frogmore Paper Mill’s bespoke papermaking service and discovered a limited-edition stock using the surfeit of waste jeans material. This opportunity to recycle unwanted denim rags to create a premium paper is the antithesis of fast fashion, providing a highly individual stock which can be used on all Blackhorse Lane Ateliers’ stationery. 

Collaboration

Production manager for Blackhorse Lane Ateliers Annie Gurney explained:

“We love the idea of not letting anything go to waste. The chance to use denim rag to make a paper pulp and potentially use our own off-cuts in the future is a very exciting prospect. It’s been an experiment for us, exploring the suppleness of the material, and working with the idiosyncratic nature of the fabric. You can see the fibres within the paper, it undulates very slightly with varying levels of thickness and has a variable bluish tint, which makes printing on the stock a very careful process!”

She goes on to add: “That’s where the Baddeley Brothers come in. We know the firm through the East End Trades Guild and working with the team there really fits with our community ethos. They are also as passionate about quality as we are, and we all worked hard to get the print on the swing tags just right. We were looking for a premium printed feel that complemented the suppleness of the material. Baddeley Brothers recommended debossing, using a matt white foil. It has created a really beautiful and sophisticated look and we’re so pleased with the result, we’ve created our business cards using the same stock and the same printing technique.”

Traditional Debossing Process

Baddeley Brothers’ Director Charles Pertwee said:

“This was a fascinating project which gave my team the chance to work with a new type of paper and texture. Using our traditional debossing process, we were able to overcome the irregularities of a 1902 paper-making machine and work with the natural imperfections of denim fibre, to create a professional, handcrafted finish. By collaborating with an East End fashion manufacturer who is shaping a new future for the fashion industry, we’re delighted to be merging old techniques with new recycled materials to create print with contemporary texture and appeal.”

A surfeit of donated Jeans

Frogmore Paper Mill originally began production of denim paper in collaboration with Oxfam, to make use of a surfeit of donated jeans. While traditionally cotton has been used to make paper, denim fabric is very hard wearing, so needs to be cut into small pieces and placed in a Hollander Beater to loosen and soften the fibres. The mixture continues to be prepared until it has reached a consistency of 1% fibre to 99% water and is then transformed into paper. No dyes are added to the stock, so the colour is created entirely by the dye in the jeans.

The birthplace of Paper’s Industrial Revolution

Frogmore Paper Mill’s education manager Sue Woolnough added:

“Using rags to make paper is a very traditional process and one we are proud to continue at the Frogmore Paper Mill. The birthplace of Paper’s industrial revolution, we still make a variety of papers here, including this denim stock, on our No 4 Fourdrinier paper machine, which dates back to 1902. You can even visit and see it in action! I love the soft feel that using denim rags creates, and it’s very satisfying to see it being used by this community of makers to support its bold sustainable ethos.”