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Image by Rosie Fraser

Repurposed Denim and Upcycled Skateboards

Emerging designer Olivia Rubens for the ITS Diesel Award Special Project

Self-described positive knitwear womenswear designer Olivia Rubens was recently awarded the 2020 International Talent Support (ITS) Responsible Fashion Award for her London College of Fashion MA graduate AW20 collection ‘Duplicitous Lives’ submitted for review in the prestigious competition for young creatives.

The graduate collection showcased Olivia’s dedication towards sustainability as every trim and material used was certified organic, recycled, ethical and/or traceable. Duplicitous Lives is a collection about the battle against the injustices of bullying and prejudice, and made use of repurposed denim, organic cotton and wool, traceable Peruvian alpaca and achieved colour through natural dyes such as turmeric and onion skins.

Duplicitous Lives, Olivia Rubens AW20

As well as submitting her graduate collection, Olivia collaborated with Josh Singal to create a body of work for the ITS Diesel Award special project.

For the Diesel submission Olivia repurposed Diesel deadstock denim jeans into new non-woven material alongside using linen yarn and Indigo dyed traceable UK mohair yarn. The trims used in the special project were created through upcycling used and broken skateboards.

“Through my connections with the skateboarding industry, I realized how often they break and go through boards, and how much waste there was. Trims are also so behind with regards to more sustainable options, so for this recycled denim look, we figured it would only make sense and create great opportunity to create recycled trims and accessories out of broken and used skateboards.” – Olivia Rubens

Images - @oliv.iarubens

Olivia expresses ‘Skateboarding and snowboarding have many things in common, but also many differences, and the communities can be very discordant. Snowboarding has been accepted as a professional sport for many years, but skateboarding, in a rebellious sense, has always been regarded as a lifestyle rather than a sport, represented in the “good old times”, the 90s, in skateboarding, when it wasn’t such a technical hobby as it is now. This body of work represents my own personal perspective on sport, utility and clubbing, bringing together my upbringing in both these realms, and making reference to my own rebellious nature not to conform to one single “box”, but to incorporate many facets into my personality and current perspectives. From skate magazine parties, to rail jams and après ski, to scrapes and tears in my clothing, to broken boards, to cheap beer, and to oversized tie dyed tees and beanies in whistler nightclubs. This is a representation of who I was and who I am today. As a woman in many often male-dominated spaces, I keep female role models in these scenes close to my heart as inspiration, represented here: lacey baker, nora vasconcellos, lizzie armanto and vanessa torres.

Knit structures made with recycled denim and sustainable yarns reference the wear and tear of the lifestyle, including the deconstruction of the woven deadstock denim garments and fabric, made into new vibrant fabrics, as in mending and altering clothing in those subcultures. The concept is more literally incorporated into the look through the making of trims with layered, recycled skateboards in collaboration with Josh Singal, as skateboards are broken and worn down so often, there is so much waste, and trims are the most challenging detail to find in sourcing sustainably.’

Image Credits - Photography: Ted Belton / Makeup: Vanessa Garland / Hair: Erika Fung / Model: Hannah (want management) / Skateboarder/model: Ethan Akerman

Olivia Rubens is currently based between her home country of Canada and London, UK growing her self-titled brand with an ever-present focus on environmental sustainability and social justice through community engagement.

To see more of Olivia Rubens work and explore her vision for a new positive future for fashion visit:




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