The quintessential moment in Novak’s Live Learn Upgrade shirt .The 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 make this into a business,” she says.
Live Learn Upgrade shirt, hoodie, sweater, longsleeve and ladies t-shirtNow four years later Live Learn Upgrade 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. Whenever 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 straightforward 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 evident in the top as it was designed to resemble a corset, but both pieces 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 that the additional layer will help. Comfort is essential to me in anything and everything I do. When working on a crazy design, I always ensure it’s lined with a soft fabric. I always ask myself, ‘Would I wear this, and is it cozy?’”
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