Our Design Process: Behind the Recycled Cotton Shorts

Our Design Process: Behind the Recycled Cotton Shorts


sketch book drawings of shorts, stamp and stickers with apres studio logo


Our initial design process begins with sketching and playing with shapes from the items that our team and our friends are missing in our wardrobes. Those pieces of clothing that we all want, but can't quite seem to find the perfect item from another brand.

We love to taking our time and care with design detailing and garment specifics; marrying aesthetically pleasing features with practicality at the forefront of the designs and execution.

While sketching (and through every part of the design process), we keep our brand values close. This helps to make sure that all pieces that are put into production need to align with our brand values. 

They need to be;

True to our brand aesthetic.

Able to be worn on many occasions and outings. Easily dressed up or down.

Pushes boundaries of what already exists. One step ahead. Asks the questions, always looking to be better.

Made with the most environmentally honouring fabrics and finishes. Recycled, organic or dead-stock. Inclusive size offering.

Makes you feel like the most supported, powerful and confident version of yourself.

  sketched images of shorts with specifications and measurements


Next, we put together the tech pack (technical packet). This is a specification sheet for our manufacturers, a blue print with everything they need to turn our sketched concept into a real product.



Although better than regular cotton, organic cotton requires a great deal of energy and water to produce (as much as 660 gallons / 2498.37 litres of water, to be exact), pre-consumer recycled cotton requires much less.

There are actually two different types of recycled cotton – post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled cotton. The former is reutilised after the consumer is finished with their garment, while the latter is made from manufacturer waste instead. This means that the scraps, rejects and trimmings, which usually wouldn’t make it into the customer’s hands at all – but would normally be discarded – can be given new life. Both forms of recycled cotton represent a better alternative than simply sending fabric waste to landfill, but pre-consumer cotton helps to make up for the fact that an estimated 15-20% is wasted throughout the production process. 

We have chosen to work with pre-consumer recycled cotton, developed by collecting the scraps and tiny off cuts of cotton canvas fabric.

Here it is below.

fabric pieces and swatches with cotton flowers

During the recycling process, the cotton waste is first sorted by type and colour and then processed through stripping machines that break the yarns and fabric into smaller pieces before pulling them apart into fibre. The mix is carded (cleansed and disentangled) several times in order to clean and mix the fibres before they are spun into new yarns.

Because waste cotton is often already dyed, re-dyeing may not be necessary, as per the black coloured recycled cotton we've chosen to make you these shorts.



This is when things get really exciting - sampling! We pay USD $80 and around USD $60 for postage per sample that we make. We try to minimise this sampling process as much as possible as it very quickly becomes a very expensive and time consuming process. Samples need to be made in the sample room by the most highly skilled machinists whom are also pattern makers and have a huge deal of technical knowledge and experience. 


Black shorts details

This is an image of our initial design and first sample.

We really really loved these. But they're SO SHORT. And a little impractical. The front split accentuates leg length and the back pockets are cool, but after a couple of days of washing and wearing them on ourselves, we returned to the drawing board to revise and rework the design.

They didn't feel 100% and we would never back a product or bring one into your lives that we didn't feel sure of.


black shorts on human

We feel like we nailed it this time around.

We increased the leg length at the front and back, made the leg hem width super wide which is much more flattering. We added our signature draw cord as seen on our chocolate hoodie. We added a thick white contrast zig zag stitch and our signature star embroidery. To clean things up and ensure these shorts were made for many wears, we asked Daisy to finish all of the internal seams with a 'French finish'.

French Seams are a type of seam finishing used in sewing where the raw edges on the inside are totally encased in an extra row of stitching. This creates a seam that is far more durable than most other seam finishes and an item or clothing pieces that looks as attractive on the inside as it does on the outside.



patterns of short style

Once we finalise the sample, we move into creative patterns for manufacturing. Here are some images of the paper patterns that are laid out on the fabric before they're cut out. A different set of patterns must be made for each size we produce. We currently offer sizes XS-XL; a total of 5 sizes.

fabric pieces in studio being created by human

Here are some images of the pieces being cut and sewn. There are many machines and processes applied to and used for each garment along the production line.


shorts folded in boxes ready for shipment

Here they are, all packed in BPAT plastic poly bags ready to be sent to us here in Australia before they take a month off to holiday with their families.


Next stop, our butts.

shorts on human walking on street with dog



Being a responsible brand doesn't end with us, it continues with you.

The way that you wash and care for your garments can increase the life span dramatically and therefore mitigate the need to buy more.

As shown on our care labels, we suggest the following care to be taken;

graphics and test with product aftercare information

As always, we strongly suggest to use natural detergents to wash your pieces. This means you can collect and use the grey water that comes out of your machine and is usually washed down the drain to water your plants!

Natural detergents are usually free of harsh chemicals and can help reduce the wear and tear on fibres, reduce colour fading, and keep clothes looking newer for longer.



We have sampled these babies up in traditional 'mens' sizing and hope to bring those proportions and fits into fruition in the near future.

We have to order the minimum order quantity all over again $5K and 50 units to cut and produce these for 'mens' fits.

At the moment thats too big of a risk for us when most of our product and following is geared towards a 'female' identifying customer base.

However, if you would ever like a piece custom made for you, our makers can do this for us at a slightly higher cost. Just email us info@apresstudio.com.au and we can place your custom order!


Thanks for investing your time in us and our responsible clothing.

Be kind to one another, and love your mother.

graphic icon of heart with smiling face


Some factual information borrowed in this article came from the following sources;



  • Lana Murpy

    What a brilliant way to reduce wastage!


  • Tim

    This is so informative and inspiring! So much work and love goes into each piece <3

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