SoCal Designer transforms old fossils into luxurious fashions

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What You Need To Know

For the last two years, Detwiler — an avid surfer and part-time model — has been breathing new life into old fabrics, turning them into ready-to-wear works of art. On a warm December morning, Detwiler was on a quest to transform a dusty old duffel bag from the Korean War into a cargo blazer fit for the runway.

It all started when Detwiler, then a fine arts major at USC, turned one of his old baby quilts into a jacket for a school project.

“This duffel bag carried a life,” he said. “And the fact that it came into my hands, I feel empowered to share that story.”

Story Highlights

  • “There’s something about dirt covered pieces or things that are torn and ripped,” he said.

  • For the last two years, Tristan Detwiler — an avid surfer and part-time model — has been breathing new life into old fabrics
    It all started when Detwiler, then a fine arts major at USC, turned one of his old baby quilts into a jacket for a school project
    Two years later, his creations have been featured in Vogue, The New York Times and even the Metropolitan Museum of Art
    As sustainable fashion goes mainstream, big and small brands are repurposing scraps of forgotten fabrics into expensive haute couture

“I had slept with it my whole life. My mom made it for me when I was 2 and I thought this would be a really cool jacket,” he said.

Two years later, his creations have been featured in Vogue, The New York Times and the Metropolitan Musem of Art. These days, he’s putting together his fourth collection for New York Fashion Week, all without using a single piece of new fabric. In fact, the older and grimier the material, the better.

“These ones that are just covered in dirt, I don’t want to wash them,” he said pointing at the duffel bag. As sustainable fashion goes mainstream, big and small brands are repurposing scraps of forgotten fabrics into expensive haute couture — a practice known as upcycling. Detwiler uses anything from old quilts to century-old napkins to sleeping bags.

His designs can fetch thousands of dollars a piece. Each item is one-of-a-kind and can take several days to complete. The duffel bag-turned cargo blazer took two days to put together. The price tag? A cool $1,750, which includes the original metal rivets that are now serving as the jacket’s hem.

“I kept all the authenticity of the duffel bag, all the marks and tears, everything,” said Detwiler. Detwiler’s creations can be seen at Stanlosangeles.com.