Deadly Denim: upcycling to create fresh, contemporary clothing

Published: 2 December 2022

An Australian First Nations inspired and operated business, Deadly Denim upcycles denim to create refreshed, new clothing items. They engage with circular economy principles by reusing materials otherwise destined to be disposed of, reducing the landfill burden and limiting the resources that would otherwise be used to create a new denim product.

Deadly Denim facilitates ‘moving art’ by showcasing Australian First Nations artists and their designs on the denim clothing and accessories they repurpose. They also offer travelling community workshops within settings such as family violence victim-survivor service centres, youth groups, correctional facilities and schools. Workshops are multi-purpose; they allow for skill-building, textile recycling education and incorporation of textile off-cuts into creative new items.

Deadly Denim are also proud community partners and support initiatives with Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund (RLIMCF) – the Indigenous Midwifery organisation that supports the importance of increasing the number of Indigenous midwives across Australia.

Deadly Denim recognise that denim production is traditionally very resource intensive. So they are investigating the incorporation of 100% sustainable, compostable denim created by Candiani in Italy, in addition to their use of recycled denim products.

Challenges and insights

The bulk of Deadly Denim sales are custom orders managed through an online marketplace. This has proven to be very time consuming and has provided logistical challenges that have led to delayed order-filling. As a result, Deadly Denim have started pursing a unique ready-made range of designs, keeping recycled jacket options exclusively for workshops. The new range will allow for larger, more sustainable production runs, and will incorporate a zero waste model, including the use of sustainable trims and finishes.

Recommended actions for government and industry

Deadly Denim would love to see more government action in supporting textile businesses to engage in sustainable practices, such as funding social enterprises. They’d also like to see governments employing regulations similar to the proposed New York Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act to encourage business engagement with beneficial environmental and social projects.


Learn more

For more information, see Deadly Denim’s website and online store