We started #donatedenim in Edinburgh in 2020, then relocated to Glasgow in early 2021. Speaking to charities, it was clear they did not have the ability to deal with material that couldn't sell.
But charities deal with our old clothes?
Some large UK charities know their system isn’t working but it is difficult to fix.
Far too many items of clothes are ‘donated’ to charities when it’s a clear out.
Is that fair on charities? No. Will they ever complain? No.
If charities are honest about the quality, and stopped accepting our dirty clothes, then they risk both quantity AND quality.
No, best they keep the broken system going…
Our #donatedenim campaign is about raising awareness of what we donate.
We have spoken to many people over the last 15 months and most know that charity isn’t the answer. They know their clothes will likely end up on a landfill somewhere and they want a better story than that. But what?
People want a system that works. The current one doesn’t work.
Using the donated denim in our upcycled clothing range then shows what is possible. It acts as a visual trigger to the message.

What does Arkdefo do with denim?

We collect and use all denim, even the elastane “stretchy” stuff that no one else wants. Believe us when we say we would rather not use it. It is horrible to work with, but if we don’t save it then it is landfill. Simple as that. All those jeans with the holes between the legs? Yes, we save them too. They can’t be resold, or made into shorts, so what happens to them? Landfill.
But the recycling centres sort out the clothing?”…
Not the way they should. It is bundled together and shipped overseas to be sold in foreign markets. Not free donations. SOLD. Even charities sell overseas. They don’t give this stuff away free.
So this all leads to a sad end for once loved clothing, or at least we hope once loved. Impulse buys tend to clog up the clothes recycling bins.
What we don’t see is the destination. Usually Africa in the UK’s case. For years, the OR Foundation has been working in Ghana to raise awareness of the clothing export problem.
Please check out their Instagram page @theorispresent.
So, what can we do about it?
To change the system, we need to begin building a new system and that is what we are doing.

Denim recycling in Glasgow

We are it.
No one else wants to touch all that stretchy denim, the stuff that wears away at the knees or between the legs. That is the vast majority of denim purchases (especially black denim) from high street brands.

Denim recycling in UK

We are it.
No one else wants to touch post-consumer denim. Charities cannot sell it, so it isn't stocked. It would be so much easier to walk in to a charity, or second hand market and pick up denim at discount, then work with that.
“But you are getting free material?”…Yes and no.
What we do to prepare the denim, design and then make is an incredible amount of time and work. We hand cut every pair of jeans into usable piles of material. This doesn’t cover organising collections. Yes, we generally do pick up in person. We walk. 
We have had some brilliant emails, from far and wide, asking about donations. People want to help. They know their clothes will likely end up in landfill and want a better second life. We have had jeans from Edinburgh, from the Shetland Islands and even from Spain!

Making Waste Sexy

That is our mission. 
To do something different from the same old denim upcycling ideas. We bring something new and interesting to the arena. We show that high-end fashion can meet concept art. It should be fun, it should be playful.
Denim is the start. We are already working on expanding our material range. through partnership discussions, which will establish Arkdefo in Glasgow and further afield.
To everyone who has donated so far, a huge thank you.
What we are creating for 2022 will blow you away!
If you are looking for daily updates then check out our TikTok account @arkdefo for more content.
You can keep up to date with our podcast, available on Spotify, Google, Apple and most platforms. Check out Arkdefo Slow Radio.





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