Off-the-shoulder

Updated: Apr 13

Series: Upcycling denim classics to denim couture



Despite the thousands of fashion choices we get to choose from every day, denim’s versatility makes it a wardrobe staple and fashion essential found in just about any fashion closet in the world. Readily available in fifty shades of blue or more, the iconic denim never runs out of style.


With denim's long history and never-ending highs, there is so much to love about her and yet so much concern around her existence. In every stage of denim production there is a heavy environmental impact of denim processing and major sustainability issues associated with the denim industry.


I am running this series of articles around ‘upcycling denim classics to denim couture’ to sensitise all of you denim lifestyle and fashion lovers on the effect denim has on our environment and why you as a consumer should focus on buying less denim and upcycling more of your already existing pieces for some environmental TLC."


Off the shoulder dresses, were the height of fashion in the early to mid-1800's with the likes of Napoleon's empress, Eugenie and her ladies wearing dresses designed by Couturier Charles Frederick Worth in1855. While fashion icon Brigitte Bardot revived the fashion trend bringing in her own twist to the off-shoulder dress in the 1960’s, the style was coined as the “Bardot,” we just revived our Off-the-shoulder focusing on denim couture.


Showcased in our debut series DeniMania collection at South Africa Fashion week AW18 in it's original state and then featured on Phoenix Rising, DeniMania Series in it's upcycled state, our 'Kaloka' tiered denim gown allows you to take your denim all the red-carpet way of your evening with great structure, form & minimised fuss allowing the denim to embrace your curves one denim weft at a time.



There is something so timid yet laissez-faire about denim, but on the other hand, there is something so exquisite about gowns, trails, tulle, off-the-shoulder necklines with all that fuss and sass. Because I get a high on all these elements of style, I have fused it all into one magical piece.


Here are 5 key features that have transformed this easy denim classic into denim couture.


Stitching thread colour



On this gown, we use raw denim for a cleaner and deeper look and feel with blue thread stitching. This allows us to get away from the authentic orange thread for sticking of jeans trademarked in 1943 by Levi Strauss & Co. transforming this look from casual to dress-up.


Off-the shoulder complimented in long sleeves



One of the most unique features about denim is its casual effortless versatility. When you are getting ready to start your day and you find yourself in the denim section of your wardrobe, chances that you are planning to take it easy on that day are quite high. Easy denim could be a pair of jeans, a denim shirt, shorts or a jacket and very rarely an off-the-shoulder denim staple.


This is the reason I have highlighted the ‘off-the-shoulder’ detail on this ‘Kaloka’ gown to bring in a more sophisticated look that has the ability to traverse through the red carpet and a few more soirees. This piece elongates the neck while showcasing any additional assets around the neckline including the collar-bones. Finally, when the when all the neck and collar is exposed, these long sleeves cover up again without interfering with the full look.

I believe that style is freedom, however I am all for experiment and at the same time as i get constantly wowed by minimalism in fashion; less is more. So, if you are out in a beautiful gown and your back is out, your legs are out, your arms are out and your cleavage is out, what do you leave to the imagination with all those eyeballs glued on you?


For those of use lucky enough to have been born a woman, we have so many assets to play off and they are certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. Maybe Monday could be ‘legs’ day, and Tuesday could be ‘back’ day and on and on.


You choose!


The ‘ripped’ effect



In early 2010, ripped jeans came back in style as a 90’s revival, but were sometimes introduced as distressed, quite similar to ripped jeans, but the horizontal sewing point was occasionally removed to look like it was distressed.


Lately, when I look around, it seems like 'ripped' got even more 'distressed' and just decided to lose big chucks off the jeans. People seem to be walking around with a big hole or two or even three on their jeans leaving them with barely any denim left to hang on to.


In my response, I have brought back some texture and a little touch of street to this gown through a hint of minimised distress on the sleeves, hips and bodice area. The ripped effect is subtle enough not to show off too much but to leave some little imagination to what’s sitting underneath.


The ‘Sweetheart’ touch



After quite a décolleté exposé as if the shoulder-off was not enough, here comes an extra element to reveal just a little more, without hurting John and Peter. The sweet-heart neckline brings in a classic play and romance all wrapped up in this bouquet of denim chic.


Abstract tiers extending into a train



These abstract tiers layered over stuffed tulle throughout the hemlines bring in some play without drawing away from Kaloka’s romance. The tulle adds extra volume to the bottom of the gown to give an extra silhouette boost. Often associated with bridal wear and ballerina costumes, the ethereal and transparent qualities of tulle symbolise the contradictions associated with womanhood; delicate-yet- strong, pure-yet-sexy.


Also referred to as a train, this may not be the world’s longest trail neither anything like my longest trail, however, a trail is still a trail. The train is designed to trail behind you as you walk down the red carpet or whatever occasion worth celebrating while bringing in a touch of elegance to any occasion.


Feel free to visit my shop for an overdose of denim.


Yours fabulously,


Multidisplinary Creative Entrepreneur | Consultant

Liz Ogumbo - Regisford