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University of Salford students exhibit upcycled items at i + g cohen event

Students have turned discarded denim clothes into novel products, such as iPad cases, toys and a rocking chair, to demonstrate ‘second life’ opportunities for waste textiles and their great capacity for re-use.

A waterproof coat derived from shredded denim and a denim pair of sunglasses are among other items created by 34 Fashion Design undergraduates at the University of Salford to show how beautiful and desirable fashion and lifestyle products can be made - or ‘upcycled’ -from used denim garments. Their work was displayed at the ‘What a Waste!’ one-day seminar on November 13th at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Co-hosted by local recycling specialists I & G Cohen Ltd and Axion Consulting, this key event for local authorities and waste management professionals explored innovative ways of diverting used clothing and textiles from landfill and generating new income sources. Latest figures show that 350,000 tonnes of clothing are being sent to landfill in the UK each year, with a further 70,000 tonnes destined for incineration.

Salford-based textile recycler I & G Cohen, whose partnership recycling schemes with councils and waste management companies include charities, kerbside and textile bank collections, supplied all the denim items for the project. “We are very excited to host this innovative exhibition created by University of Salford students at our event. Upcycling denim by making consumer products like iPad covers show in a very practical way how we can add value to people's cast offs,” commented I & G Cohen Director Phil Geller.

BA (Hons) Fashion Programme Leader, Bashir Aswat at the University’s School of Art and Design explained that the students chose denim as a readily available, often discarded material with lots of potential for reinvention for their garment recycling project. He said: “It was interesting to see the ideas that emerged from approaching the material in totally unexpected ways and the diversity of lifestyle products they created in breathing ‘new life’ into the denim jean. The aim was to use waste denim as a raw material resource and create new 100% sustainableand desirable items that would overcome any negative preconceptions about recycling,” added Bashir.

Lecturer John Earnshaw said it is inspiring for students to be met with a new challenge which takes them out of their ‘comfort zone’, adding: “It reminds them of important issues surrounding our industry. “In meeting the challenge of transforming an ordinary everyday fabric into an inventive and diverse range of new products that are no longer recognisable as a pair of jeans or denim jacket, they created items which consumers would want to cherish rather than throw away again.”

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