Nicole McLaughlin — pioneer of upcycling, repurposing and reinventing
By now, Nicole’s visionary work has made waves far beyond the design bubble. What started as a hobby in 2018, has resulted in collaborations with Puma, the Northface, Diemme and Reebok, just to name a few. Recently she teamed up with Vans to create a pair of the iconic skate shoe.
The original sample was made from an upcycled gardening tote — Nicole blends the brand’s aesthetic with her signature style: incorporating practical details with a reference to everyday life — and a dash of humor. Nicole’s projects range from wearable, highly sought after pieces to one of a kind creations, always exploring her boundless mind. Collaborators appreciate her approach to utilizing materials and resources — especially since the need for sustainable solutions in the fashion industry is more urgent than ever.
After the oil industry, the fashion industry is the world’s the second largest polluter. But pollution isn’t the only issue: the need for resources, causing deforestation, desertification and inhumane working conditions are all part of the problematic mechanisms of the industry. Upcycling and a circular economy are steps towards a more sustainable future. Nicole is a true pioneer in making upcycling cool by reinventing and thus, prolonging the lifespan of materials.
The fact that big names in the industry like Gucci or Calvin Klein are working together with Nicole, gives hope that a change of mind is slowly but surely happening. In conjunction with with legislative measures like the law which passed only last year in France, prohibiting companies to destroy unsold non-food goods, a significant switch to sustainable fashion is possible.
In her work, Nicole reverses the common design process of bringing an idea to life by conceptualizing and finding the materials: she has the material and develops the idea from there. Since the recycling of textile takes a lot of work, and is impossible for all clothes made of mixed materials, upcycling is the better option: already existing materials and products can be repurposed. Nicole’s approach to sustainability has the potential to inspire more people to do things themselves and, maybe even more importantly: to question the fixed ideas we have about things. A jacket may be a jacket today, but can become a set of lingerie tomorrow.
In addition to her ongoing workshops, where Nicole shares her knowledge and skills with participants, she currently works on the creation of a non profit organization. The aim is to connect students and designers with large companies to realize projects by using dead-stock and overstock. Her work shows that sustainability is not a mere trend, but a solution to the issues we are facing globally.
In our interview with Nicole you find out what’s important to her during a collaboration, what inspires her and how she stays true to her vision. Get yourself a copy of forward magazine No.4 here and read about Nicole’s work in her own words.
Image Credits © Nicole McLaughlin