Upcycle origin story of the Off the Track Crew

Upcycle origin story of the Off the Track Crew

Transformed from unusable riding tights into a cozy crew sweater, read the story of our latest upcycled fleece top. 

Picture this: you see a need in the market and have a great idea for a new equestrian brand. You spend months researching, finding fabric, creating patterns, perfecting fit, and take the financial plunge to produce your first tiny run of riding tights for your fledgling brand.

... and they DON'T FIT RIGHT.

From the beginning this fashion design and production business was a learning curve for me, but boy was this learning moment steep!  Tracing steps back, I had made a newbie mistake on the production order and the fabric, which is only a 2-way stretch, was cut in the wrong direction making them too tight around the leg. 

New pants were of course made, successfully launching BOTORI just a few weeks later. (Remember the Gina tights, our first fleece lined riding pants?) And over the next few years the pattern was improved to the latest G4 from last winter. 

But what about that original production order that didn't fit? The still brand new and unworn tights had been stored away in a bin, but never quite forgotten. I absolutely knew that I didn't want to waste weeks of labor and perfectly good high-quality fabric, so a new purpose had to be found for these pants. 

More than two years later, I turned these tights over to our production manager Nadja Kabic to work her magic. I had seen all the lovely upcycled pieces she had been creating with her own brand, and then clothing. I knew that with her creativity and passion for bringing items back to (new) life, that she would find the perfect re-use for these tights. 

Here's Nadja's story on how she repurposed the tights:

I don’t think PJ knows just how ecstatic I was when she asked if I knew what she could do with a small batch of riding tights that were not usable as pants. I was honored to be trusted to recreate them into something else.

I immediately envisioned endless possibilities for them, and began deconstructing and playing with ideas. One thing I knew instantly... the legs would become sleeves, and the knee patch would be the elbow patch…almost as if it was always meant to be. And those knit cuffs, how perfectly they complete the sleeve! 

Now the biggest challenge of all was to focus on one idea so that we could produce as many as possible.

First, I had created a custom one of a kind jacket for PJ which used up 3 pairs of tights and countless hours of piecing and sewing. The transformation process honestly felt like minutes to me, but it was not the most efficient way to proceed. So we landed on a drop sleeve crew style which encapsulates the BOTORI aesthetic…modern and comfortable. Using matching leftover fleece and ribbed fabric, along with the pant legs, I created a cozy top which can easily be paired with any of the other BOTORI tights.

Since the Off the Track Crew tops are based on remaining pant sizes, each is slightly one of a kind and very limited edition. If you have a pair of the Gina or G3 or G4 tights, the colors will match perfectly. The top also pairs well with any black tights or breeches, and even jeans.

If you are lucky enough to get one, enjoy.  And if I’m lucky enough, I will soon be upcycling the remaining parts of those pants. - Nadja

Why call it the "Off the Track Crew"?

Every piece in the BOTORI collection has a special meaning behind the name. For this top, I wanted to name it something related to horses but also acknowledge the transformation from riding pants to top. BOTORI had recently been at the Thoroughbred Makeover in Lexington, and I thought the inspiring stories of OTTBs starting new careers was the perfect parallel. 

What is fashion upcycling? 

Upcycling means to "transform clothes, accessories, and textile waste into new products. Upcycled items could be post-consumer waste (items that have been purchased, worn, and discarded) or deadstock (items that did not sell)." 

Fashion upcycling is becoming a creative and sustainable response to the industry’s growing waste crisis - and upcycled pieces are one of the coolest, more ingenuitive areas within eco-friendly fashion. 

Meet the designer: Nadja Kabic

Nadja is a freelance apparel designer, product development and production manager in the Philadelphia area working with brands to bring their visions to life. Upcycling and creating one of a kind pieces are her passions. She has founded andthenclothing.com as her creative outlet - and to advocate for a more sustainable fashion future. 

Follow Nadja on Instagram for more fashion tips and one-of-a-kind upcycled pieces. (Hint... I think she could transform a well-worn but lucky show shirt into something really special!)

Back to blog