The quintessential moment in Novak’s Civil War Invaders shirt .Sustainable origin story derives from her experience in retail. Working in the stockroom, she was shocked by the amount of paper and plastic used before the products even made it to the sales floor. “The trash just from step one was ridiculous, and it awoke something in me,” she says. However, it wasn’t until Novak collaborated with a friend on a custom piece that she realized her hobby could become something more than an occasional Mother’s Day gift. “I learned to sew in Grade 4, and I would make things for myself and my mom, but it wasn’t until I made that garment for my friend that I thought I could actually make this into a business,” she says.
Civil War Invaders shirt, hoodie, sweater, longsleeve and ladies t-shirtNow four years later Civil War Invaders shirt .Lauren Novak has become a must-see maker at the annual Fashion Art Toronto runway presentation, and in 2021, she presented her Sleepover collection at New York Fashion Week. Here, FASHION got an inside look into the designer’s process and how she turned hundreds of leftover labels into a contemporary two-piece. “For this outfit, I chose the material first and the silhouette second. Any time I deconstruct a vintage garment, I try to save every little scrap of it, including its tags. I’ve collected hundreds of them over the years, and I knew I wanted to create something with a very simple design to let the tags speak for themselves.” You can use many different materials to create fabrics, but I prefer to sew something onto something else. For this, I used an old bedsheet as the base and precut the pattern pieces so I didn’t have to cut the tags. After that, I played with different combinations of labels and then pinned them on. It was like a game of Tetris. Topstitching is necessary in the process to make sure the tags stay in place. Instead of just doing something simple, I wanted to add another layer of detail and accentuate a woman’s curves. It’s more obvious in the top as it was designed to resemble a corset, but both pieces are designed to complement the shape of a woman’s body. “Next, I lined the almost-finished garment with material from another cotton-based bedsheet. The excessive topstitching might irritate some people’s skin, so the additional layer will help with that. Comfort is very important to me in anything and everything I do. If I’m working on a crazy design, I always make sure it’s lined with a soft fabric. I always ask myself ‘Would I wear this, and is it cozy?’”
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