Ever since the Great Raw Denim Boom of the early aughts, American denim has kept it relatively simple: blue, straight-legged, and mostly to the point. Sure, the exact fit and rise of jeans have ebbed and flowed to some degree, but the big idea was to keep it classic. Then Gucci (perhaps treading on ground Ed Hardy broke a decade prior) introduced the idea of embroidered embellishments as luxury adornment. Bode stormed the scene and proved you can turn forgotten textiles into covetable fashion. Somewhere along the way, these two ideas merged, and an aesthetic—one-of-one, hand-sewn, deeply individual clothes—emerged.
This week marks the release of a collaborative project between Levi’s and Bentgablenits, a sign that the home-core aesthetic (and the environmentally friendly upcycling mentality that goes with it) isn’t going anywhere.
Levi’s is, obviously, the quintessential American denim company. Bentgablenits, meanwhile, is a trio from Toronto that turns upcycled vintage garments into covetable wares. It’s the unlikely pairing of two interior designers—Brenda Bent and Karen Gable—and vintage fashion collector in Angelo Nitsopoulos, a close friend of Bent’s sons. Yet the three have proven to be a quiet force, building an in-the-know brand by reworking deadstock garments from Nike and The Elder Statesman. In less than two years, Bentgablenits has managed to grab enviable nods from Travis Scott, Bella Hadid, and Daniel Arsham. Fellow Canadian Drake purchased from one of the label’s first-ever drops, too.
For this collection, Levi’s supplied specially sourced vintage 501 jeans and trucker jackets, and Bentgablenits stepped in to handle the rest. Each piece features delicate floral embroidery entirely done by hand (no sewing machines here), and the process can take up to three hours per garment to complete. The denim garments—dotted with flower buds and leaves—feel as inspired by hippie jeans of the 1970s (minus the bell bottoms) as the denim program designed by Alessandro Michele a half-decade ago. Levi’s x Bentgablenits will be available exclusively on the Levi’s App starting April 29.
It’s one thing for a massive and iconic brand like Levi’s to apply homey embroidered patches to their jeans; it is totally another for them to go all-in on the concept and team up with a small label like Bentgablenits. The growing consumer desire shop to more mindfully, coupled with the fact that these denim wares are straight-up stylish, suggests that this collaboration is destined to be a hit.