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Denim decoded

For most of us, denim is just a pair of clothing. But not for 26-year-old Ornella D’Souza. The former journalist and founder of Artumbrella, a personal blog that focusses on people and initiatives that use art as a medium to spread a message or talk about a cause, realised that there’s more to the fabric than meets the eye.


Denim book jacket designed by Sai Shraddha Malage. Pic/ Ornella D’Souza.

So last year, she came up with Denim Theory, a campaign on her website, which urges designers to experiment with the blue warp and white threads and recreate a range of fashionable products. The results were more than quirky. Book jackets, plain and graffiti bow-ties, jholas with traditional glittery motifs, bags in various shapes and jewellery pieces made of denim, these are just some of the creations whose photos and blog posts have been uploaded on her website since May this year.

D’Souza explains what appeals to her about jeans, “I always felt denim was underrated as a fabric compared to other materials when it came to recycling. It offers you an array of options to mix-and-match and recreate something new. By recycling it, you can explore your creative side and also have something durable and sturdy.”


Denim sling bag by Andrea  D’Souza. Pic/ Jane D’Souza

Her love for the fabric coupled with the idea of recycling jeans to recreate an entirely different product prompted her to devise Denim Theory. For more than a year, D’Souza contacted designers who were willing to take up this challenge. She handed them used-denim as raw material, which her friends readily ‘donated’ for this cause.

D’Souza elaborates she gave designers a simple brief. “I told them that they had to create a unique item using safety pins, buttons, lace and thread etc. I urged them to establish their own theory on what denim means to them and what influenced their creation. As a result, each blog post is not only visually inspiring but also helps people to understand the designer’s thoughts.”  For instance, for Sai Shraddha Malage, a freelance designer, who created denim book jackets, recycling denim was just an extension of her hobby of collecting and recycling old fabrics and accessories. 

While for Natasha D’Souza, a graphic designer, the campaign meant giving new meaning to a fabric she loves and not just discarding it. For Prapti Sarmalkar, a fashion accessory designer, creating denim bow ties stems from the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. She says in her post on Artumbrella, “Today, denim is in vogue and bow ties are no longer a status symbol; but the gap between the rich and the poor is still here. By unifying these two symbols, I hope to bridge the gap within the fashion context. This accessory is for rebels who challenge convention with their own sense of fashion.”

D’Souza ensured that designers kept her updated at every step. “The products were screened at every stage, right from an initial sketch to the photograph composition,” she adds. The arts aficionado is happy with the response the campaign has garnered.  She says the idea was never to use these creations for profit but to inspire people to think out of the box. “We have already sold a few pieces that have been uploaded on the blog. The campaign will get over within a month and a half. Most of these products are limited edition!” she concludes. 

Log on to www. artumbrella.in To buy a piece, write in to ornella@artumbrella.in  

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