Rag to Tag–Denim paper adopted by boutique fashion label

Antithesis of Fast Fashion

Recycling unwanted denim rags to create a premium denim 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 paper 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.


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!”

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 de-bossing, 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 De-bossing Process

“This was a fascinating project which gave my team the chance to work with a new type of paper and texture. Using our traditional de-bossing process, we could 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.”

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 dye created entirely the colour in the jeans. The birthplace of paper’s Industrial Revolution.

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.”

You might like to read: Is it curtains for traditional paper as FibreLab recycles textile waste into paper for printing and packaging?

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