By: Emma Hendy
In her room, you’ll find inspiration all around. The sunflower field hung behind her bed brings renewed life to her DIY room. Izzy Karapasha has a smile filled with determination and a do-it-yourself kind of attitude. She brings new life to old jean jackets. Her company, 1997 Denim, refurbishes jean jackets from thrift stores and adds new style to the vintage piece. Karapasha adds fringe, crisscrossed ribbon and patches to the jacket depending on what the customer desires. She sells to customers through her Instagram account. “I realized there was a big gap in the fashion industry and in ethical laws in the fashion industry, so my idea just kinda came off of that,” says Karapasha. According to nwi.com, the price of vintage denim can range from $25 to $40,000 based on the condition, age and color. The industry is struggling to keep up with the high demand as environmental factors such as greenhouse gases are released in the making of denim.
Karapasha is a sophomore at Miami University double majoring in Interactive Media, Fashion-Corporate Business and Information Systems. She is from Washington D.C. and came to Miami in 2016. During winter break of 2018, the 20-year-old bright-eyed woman began allowing students to message her on Instagram (@1997.denim) to request jackets. She buys jean jackets from thrift stores and creates pieces with distressed holes and funky patches. She recycles the denim to address the issue of sustainability in fashion. The designer can be described through the groovy and laid back designs that express her personality. Karapasha enjoys keeping up with the trends on social media and looks forward to styling her friends’ outfits for a night out. Her bubbly personality shines through her social connections which enable her to sell her jackets to customers all around.
The idea to create custom denim jackets came to Karapasha in one of her Interactive Media Studies courses as she was assigned to research ethical labor laws in the fashion industry. Karapasha describes her company as, “something that seemed like it could be more like a hobby than actual work.” Customers are able to work one on one with the designer to tailor to their own style. The company is following the personalization trend of 2018. Inspiration for Karapasha comes from Stella McCarthy, a luxury fashion designer who styles with refurbished faux leather. Reformation, another sustainability fashion company, is one Karapasha looks up to. The company uses rescued deadstock fabrics and vintage clothing. The young designer’s trendy style seems to match these professionals. The designer’s family encourages her hobby. Karapasha’s brother helps her business grow by analyzing finances for the company, and she receives a lot of fashion tips from her mom Karapasha is appreciative of her family’s help but says, “I want the company to be just mine.”
Karapasha laughs as she recalls the first time she saw someone wearing her jackets. She was speechless and could only say, “I made that jacket!” As for hopes as dreams, she is more focused on the message that her creations send than the success. It may just be a hobby to her, but it’s catching a lot of eyes. Karapasha hopes to change the culture of the fashion industry by using recycled clothing. The future for 1997 Denim is a simple one with a strong impact. Karapasha says, “I hope that I’ll be able to make people more aware of the environmental issues surrounding the fashion industry and furthering the use of recycled garments.”
Photos by Emma Hendy, Izzy Karapasha and Mackenzie Brown.