Tell us a little bit about yourself, who are you and how long have you been sewing, what inspired you to start sewing?
I’m a hippie at heart with an obsession for 60s fashion. I like a little bit of everything from that era but the more colourful and crazy, the better.
I started sewing late in life. I used to hand sew dolls clothes as a kid, but nothing too fancy and not for very long. I didn’t get into machine sewing until shortly after high school. My inspiration honestly came from my displeasure with shopping as a teenager. I could never find anything I liked. I just wanted sixties shift dresses, and colourful coats but all the chain store brands were so boring to me. I figured I’d try making my own clothes instead of having to buy ready made all the time. Then after experimenting with that for a bit I wanted to know more about the process that goes into pattern making and design which eventually brought me to fashion design school. I used to experiment with self drafted patterns even before school but looking back now some of them are pretty laughable. There was so much that I didn’t know about fit back then.
What do you love most about sewing? Why is it such an important skill for you to have?
Sewing is just so satisfying from start to finish. I love taking the ideas I have in my head and making it into something tangible. One day you have this brainwave, then you have a messy pile of pattern pieces, and the next it’s something you can actually wear. It’s an amazing transformation anda really great feeling when your project is complete.
Sewing has become so important to me because it brings me more of a connection to my clothes. It’s easy for me now, but the actual craft of it is quite difficult and I don’t think people truly realize the skill and patience it requires. It takes a lot of practice to get good at it and you’re constantly learning new things, and perfecting things more and more as you go. Knowing what I know now puts a greater value on garments for me. I can’t spend $6 on a T-shirt at H&M because I know that shirt should be worth more. Someone really had to get taken advantage of for it to be sold at that price. I’m now less inclined to buy things I don’t truly need, and I take way better care of the clothing I do have so it lasts longer.
Most favourite item you have made to date?
This is tricky! I have so many that I love. My jumpsuit from my design collection in school is definitely a fave and a pattern I’ve always wanted to revive in other colours and patterns but it’s so impractical in our climate. And my black high-waisted pants are a garment I wear several times a week. It’s less flashy in terms of design but the fit is amazing and they definitely fall into the functional and stylish category. I’m really proud of my pants pattern even though I still want to perfect it a little bit more.
You are quite drawn to the 1960s style, where do you draw inspiration? Anyone you admire in particular?
There are so many sources of inspiration and so many people from that era that I admire. In particular, I adore Mary Quant to bits. Not only was she an amazing designer but she actually embodied what her clothes were all about. Her styles were young, colourful, fresh, (just like her!) and yet super functional. Her clothes were definitely for the gal on the go. She defined 60s style and made London a real fashion centre where as before everyone looked to France or Italy for style inspiration.
You can usually find me pouring over fashion and culture books from this era for inspiration too. One of my favourites is called Fear & Fashion in the Cold War which is actually from a display at the V&A. I never got an opportunity to visit the collection in person so I did the next best thing and ordered the book. It’s all about how the Cold War drove so many aspects of the design world, even outside of clothing. It’s truly a great overview of space age design.
I also love movies, magazines, and music from this slice of time. I even love modern shows and movies that pay homage to it. I’ve recently become obsessed with Anna Biller’s “The Love Witch”. It’s a technicolour dream. Everything from the sets to the clothes is so wonderfully crafted.
You have recently acquired a business partner. Tell us a little more about your label and how it all started.
My label, Vertigo-Go officially started in late 2015. It’s all the funky coloursI love mixed into classic silhouettes from the 60s. I started it because after working for others in the Edmonton design scene, I felt it was time to carve out my own styles and bring something different to our fashion community. It’s something I always knew I wanted to work towards. I’d like to grow it in a way, where even though my inspiration comes from these classic 60s shapes, they can still be styled in a modern way. I love the head to toe sixties look but you definitely don’t have to, to wear my clothes.
I’m also very committed to making things as ethically as possible. There’s a lot of waste and slavery that exists within the industry and I don’t want to perpetuate that. This is why I’m so excited to be working with Tiarra of the Cricket’s Song. She makes amazing jewelry, accessories, and up-cycled clothing and is also committed to ethical and eco production wherever possible. We both really dig each others stuff and wanted to help build each other up and be a one stop shop for locally made, unique clothing and accessories. Tiarra’s style is way more modern than mine but also super fun and funky so she pulls off my clothes in a style that’s completely her own. I love her jewelry, her passion, and what she stands for so I’m thrilled we’ve put our creative heads tougher.
Problems you are encountering (ex. manufacturing, suppliers)
In recent months and especially towards the end of 2016 I’ve struggled with my place in the fashion industry. When I started design school, fast fashion hadn’t quite reached it’s peak and I didn’t even fully understand the scope of the problem at the time. I just wanted to make sixties inspired clothing for myself and other girls like me who had a hard time finding clothing that suited their style. There were definitely a few brands doing that same concept at the time but not enough that I felt there wasn’t enough room for me in this genre. Fast forward a few years and fast fashion has completely taken over the market to the point where people don’t understand the value of clothing anymore. People don’t want to pay what it’s actually worth because it’s been devalued so much. Then of course the retro-vintage-girl look exploded too with the help of Mod Cloth, and indie labels started popping everywhere. These indie labels had to compete with fast fashion so I found quite a few were also guilty of fast and cheap manufacturing. I struggled with where I fit into this knowing that I didn’t want to undersell myself just to have a place in this world, and that I didn’t want to manufacture things simply for the sake of consumerism.
The design community in Edmonton really helped get me out this rut. I went to a fashion mixer in the winter, and re-connected with Tiarra and realized that there are so many amazing creators here finding their niche, and making something for themselves and our community. It also solidified that we need more people competing against the fast fashion machine. People love fashion. People love style. And there are people that genuinely want better things for our world and are willing to pay that little extra for something that’s ethical and unique. Since then, I’ve been trying to get way from small one off runs and custom pieces, so that I can manufacture full size runs but I’ve been struggling to find quality fabrics to execute this. It seems every time I fall in love with a fabric I find at a local fabric store there’s never enough of it to make more than 3 to 5 garments. As much as I want to support local, I’ll likely need to look outside of Edmonton for fabric sources.
What do you still want to learn?
I clearly have a lot to learn about the business side of things. I want to be able to outsource my manufacturing and pattern grading process which is something I’ve all been doing myself right now. It’s obviously not a profitable way to work so I need to let go of these tasks so I can focus on making cohesive collections.
And I always want to get better at the pattern making process itself. The more you create the more adventurous you get and I really want to push myself to get out of my design comfort zone.
instagram @ nicoleagogo