Student designs urban street wear for hobby

Devon Jefferson manipulates used clothing to create his own line of urban street wear called Bum Life Threads. Jefferson and a high school friend take previously worn clothes and alter them with designs that show Jefferson’s unique style.

Mariah Wellman

Looking at Devon Jefferson, freshman in journalism and mass communication, one would never guess he is also an urban street wear fashion designer.

Along with his high school friend, Jonathan Howard, sophomore at Truman State, he created B.L.T., or Bum Life Threads.

“I don’t want to say I look like a bum,” Jefferson said. “But it’s more or less the grunge recycling of clothing.”

Jefferson and Howard started their business of manipulating used clothing in high school.

“We were tired of wasting our visionary views and decided to put them to use through the monstrous media,” Howard said. 

For Jefferson, the initial manipulating started with an orange tank top. 

“I used bleach to manipulate the color to make it look warped,” Jefferson said. “I made it from a V-neck, and I used paints to add some color to it.”

Jefferson used his sister’s nail polish to speckle-splatter the tank top. “I made it really vintage,” he said. “Like you’d see in the ’80s workout videos and I made it really hang-y.”

When Jefferson wore the tank top, he received a lot of compliments from his fellow students.

“Everybody would say: ‘Oh that’s so cool. Where’d you get that?’” he said. “I would tell them I made it, and then I kinda noticed people be like, ‘Oh wow. If you could make stuff like that, will you make me stuff?’”

From there, Jefferson started making many different articles of clothing, including tank tops, T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and different denim clothing pieces.

“I’ve always been super, super tall,” Jefferson said. “I kinda started noticing people wearing things that I was wearing more. So it was more or less, how could I manipulate this stuff to look like something unique?”

Jefferson believes he has come a long way since he started creating his own clothing pieces.

“I’ve come a long way from Jordans and Nike socks,” Jefferson said. “I mean, I own a shoe collection to die for, but that’s all I used to wear.”

Jefferson went from Jordans, to Vans and skinny jeans, and now says his style is a combination of everything.

“High fashion, street fashion, everything,” Jefferson said.

When creating B.L.T., the main goal was to get affordable statement pieces that were unique and as cheap as possible.

“If people brought us some of their old clothing, we could go from there,” Jefferson said. “We can do something to add some sort of flare to it.”

Jefferson has manipulated clothes for himself, as well as many of his friends since the beginning of his experimentation. Jefferson and Howard are currently doing clothing for mostly men but have done a few women’s pieces in the past.

“I like to think that clothing is unisex,” Jefferson said. “More or less, I feel like we are a unisex brand, but it’s a matter of if they come to us.”

As of now, B.L.T. is trying to expand their brand to more audiences, by creating a Facebook page and planning to create a Twitter page sometime in the near future.

“Now our plan is to build the fact that we are a custom brand,” Jefferson said. “But we are also doing some original things.”

Currently, B.L.T. is creating an original line of galaxy print clothing that includes shirts and sweatshirts.

“It’s not really a full galaxy shirt like you would see,” Jefferson said. “It’s really abstract.”

Jefferson and Howard decided to make asymmetrical clothing with asymmetrical cutouts, to make the clothing unique.

“We put our own original flare to stuff and try to make original pieces,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson creates his own clothing but is not planning on pursuing a major or minor in apparel, merchandising and design at Iowa State.

“I’ve put in five good years of my life into journalism; I know it like the back of my hand,” Jefferson said. “With fashion, I do know a lot about it, but it is more or less knowledge I obtained from street academy.”

Street academy is the term Jefferson uses to explain where he learned most of his techniques, on the street, looking at street wear and urban designers.

“I say ‘street academy’ because that’s what I would say my focus is right now,” Jefferson said. “It’s urban street wear. A funky mix between high fashion things and kind of like the dressed down too. It’s a really cool mix.”

Jefferson also doesn’t want to pressure himself too much, to the point where he would not continue his passion of manipulating clothing.

“I felt like me trying to take the route to the entertainment industry would be the best bet for me to be sure to have the funds to back myself in this endeavor,” Jefferson said. “I don’t want to jump into something and not have the funds. I don’t want to lose my passion for this. I’ve seen it happen with so many things in my life before.”

For now, Jefferson and Howard are trying to expand their brand, and get the word out to as many people as possible.

“B.L.T. is custom threads,” Jefferson said. “So if anyone has something they want custom, a jacket, a sweatshirt, a shirt, whatever, they can just hit us up.”