Its marbled pattern, along with its rugged texture and bulky shape, are recognisable in every Portuguese household. And the smell…Oh! The smell is unforgettable.
Azul e branco. Offenbach. Clarim. Monkey. The traditional «blue and white» soap has several aliases and various meanings. It is the emblem of a nation, but it is also a treasure on the verge of extinction. And although it is a «miracle-maker» in many women’s book, it is a symbol of the struggle related to female labour.
The staple of women who are everyday fighters. Heroines. With a quick and vigorous scrub of this soap, miracles come about. Children’s uniforms go from mud-brown to white, crystal glassware and stone floors regains its shine and plants are spared from pests. In the times of yore, it was the mythical ingredient that defined whether to keep or toss a garment that had withstood an array of adventures.
A friend of the environment and an ally of simplicity, the «sabão azul e branco» remained the main source of inspiration for a new sustainable collection, a collaboration between two labels that are fighting for a world with less waste.
Levi’s® is not new to the concept of conscious textile production: it has been developing new processes that reduce water consumption as well as materials that contribute to a lower environmental footprint. But their clothes are not just made to last. With real-life fairies in Levi’s® Tailor Shops that customise old products and transform them into entirely new pieces of clothing, the brand plays an amusing game where life and death are the elements at stake.
Defying eternity, garments are given the gift of resurrection. Upcyclers are the new Fates, the Greek goddesses of destiny. As weavers, measurers, and cutters of thread, they determine the lifespans of clothing. Levi’s® decided to tread that road for longer, promoting upcycling projects in collaboration with designers and artists all over Europe. BÉHEN held its hand and stood by its side in this journey through Portugal. An experimental approach to fashion, a passion for Portuguese popular culture, and an interest in more conscious production practices were the main components to be added to this innovating concoction.
And so, from this union, a new fairy tale was born. A love story with Levi’s® stockroom: the Levi's® + Béhen Denim Up-Cycling Project gave a second life to 25 denim items from Levi’s® deadstock and old collections by transforming them into 15 new pieces of clothing. Before, they were overstock from Levi’s® Trucker Jackets, Levi’s® Western Shirts, and even jeans made of softened hemp fibres. Potential rubbish to end up in landfill or inside incinerators. Now, they are a dreamy selection of shirts, tops, jackets, and jeans, that amount to three women’s looks and three men’s looks.
Of soap and of Portuguese faience, blue and white painted the collection. Artisanal marble painting also found a way to spiral into the fabric and, with its swirls and twirls, hypnotise every observer and passer-by.
But that dream would have never come true if it were not for a few skilful hands. The artisans at the Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva Foundation (FRESS) in Lisbon opened the doors for us to enter their mind palaces and peek into the piles of fantastic secrets and marvellous execution manuals they keep. In an environment of co-creation, these master explorers of traditional crafts taught us how to transpose this ancient painting technique into a new canvas: denim, not only a powerful symbol of women and working class’s efforts and struggles, but of revolution as well.
With an intention to tell more sustainable stories of fashion, the Levi's® + Béhen Denim Up-Cycling Project aims to present upcycling as a form of responsible consumption and a solution to waste production. By re-imagining and recycling old textiles, it is working towards fashion that is a force for good.
And because each gesture counts in the fight for a more sustainable world, 30% of the revenue from your purchase will go to Príncipe Foundation, dedicated to conserving and protecting the biodiversity of Príncipe Island, in the São Tomé e Príncipe archipelago.