Clothing brand feature: Basic Bleach

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A TV with the logo for Basic Bleach painted over it and some models sporting merch. Do you think that TV still gets HGTV? nate callaghan

It’s environmentally friendly to repurpose clothes – and totally punk rock.

Repurposing clothes has become extremely popular in the last few years, whether that be done in the form of thrift-flippers, vintage sellers, or even people who sew dresses out of old sheets from Value Village (because yes, I’ve seen that done.) Someone’s drive to repurpose can be anything: from wanting to combat fast fashion and help offset its environmental destruction, to making a little extra cash, to wanting to conserve old pieces that are now coming back into fashion and/or make them over to fit a certain aesthetic. It’s definitely the latter for Saskatoon company Basic Bleach, who specialize in “punk rock bleach-outs.”

Basic Bleach does a little bit of everything: Leigh describes her stock as “all very random” but that “every piece is one of a kind.” Leigh has “done everything from dresses, jeans, jackets, but predominantly tee-shirts” since the business’s inception in 2017. Leigh calls herself a bit of a “tee shirt hoarder” and was inspired by stylist Christian Benner (@christianbenner on Instagram).

The repurposing model of her brand came from accidentally bleach-staining a Slayer tee-shirt (one of her favourites) while working as a hairstylist and being upset that it was ruined. Then, she realized it didn’t have to be: “I was just like ‘wait, I’ll just fuck it up!’” Some more bleach, a couple of holes, and her shirt had a new life. After that, she said everywhere she went people asked where she got it.

It gave her the idea to post a status and see if anyone would be interested in buying that style of shirts – and “the feedback was astronomical.” The company really began in her personal collection. She was able to clear out a ton of shirts she didn’t wear anymore while building her brand at the same time. “And then it grew exponentially over the years,” Leigh says, “which was really cool.”

The places that one shirt has taken her and Basic Bleach have been “pretty wild.” When asked if she’s planning to expand, Leigh says she’s really just happy it keep it where it is. “It actually got a lot larger than I had ever [anticipated it to get,]” she says. What began as “just kind of a fun, kill-some-time art project [because] I wanted to see some people wear a cool fit” truly just escalated. “The first batch of tee shirts I put out was like, put in stores right away. I sold stuff out of there for years, up until like last year.”

Basic Bleach has gotten its name across Saskatoon quite handily. Leigh has gotten a ton of great experiences out of her company: “I’ve had [my clothes] in three businesses in town, I’ve done fashion shows, photo shoots.” But as of right now, Leigh says that she’s “kind of taken a bit of a hiatus in the last year and a half or so. I just haven’t been feeling the same way about it.”

Particularly over the pandemic, bleached items have become a trend in every day fashion, not just in the punk scene. This has been leading Leigh to consider how to shake it up. “I’ve been wanting to do something different,” she says, “because unfortunately, I feel like COVID turned everyone into a DIY professional.” Leigh doesn’t want to say that this is bad, adding that being into DIY is a pretty cool thing that she supports.

“I’m definitely not the first or last person to throw bleach on fabric,” she says, but that’s why she wants her business to do something different. And Leigh has already found her innovation for Basic Bleach! For fall, her big plan is releasing a small line of bleached-out trench coats. “I’m a big trench coat guy.” She says with a bit of a goofy giggle. “I think they’re really dope.”

Her boyfriend had overheard her talking about that plan and offered up a coat of his for experimenting. “He was like ‘I want you to fuck it up for me,’” Leigh says, and “‘let’s see what your vision is,’ and it turned out phenomenally.” Now, Leigh is “out on the hunt for some vintage trench coats in various shapes and sizes” to add to her line. If all goes according to plan, Leigh will be “plugging those out sooner rather than later, hopefully.”

Her creations can be found on Instagram @basicbleach_ and we’ll certainly be watching out for those sick trench coats she plans to roll out!

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