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We talked with Nicole McLaughlin, the designer who is changing the perception of common things with her creations based on upcycling: “nothing is waste or wasted.”

Nicole McLaughlin - Credit: Reebok

With over 365,000 fans on instagram, Nicole has managed to show us that nothing is waste or garbage, everything can be reinterpreted or reformulated.

It was while studying digital media technology that McLaughlin decided to explore the possibilities of design, however it was her training at Reebok that led her to the current role as creator of unique elements.

“Thinking about sustainability and seeing how we can get a new idea from the pieces to give them a new life is the motto of my work. There are many people trying to define what sustainability is,” the young designer told the Depop website, “In the end, everything is a creative act.”

Below you have the interview with Nicole McLaughlin about her creative process, the current situation and many other things:

Highxtar (H) – We are in a moment in which transforming waste into valuable objects, upcycling, is at the top… You were one of the first to show that with common things you could make really interesting objects… ​How and when did the idea of starting to do this kind of work come up?

Nicole (N)The idea of waste is based on perception – “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

At my former day job, I focused on graphic design, but during my time, I started making things as a hobby. I used what was available, and the limited resources brought about challenges that ultimately gave way to a means of expression; a focus on upcycling.

However, everything I use is valuable; nothing is waste or wasted.

H – Are your works art or are designs, sometimes we see that the boundaries are a bit blurred?

N – They’re both. Everything I do is an idea that I want to create. From there, that design evolves and becomes something you can either view as a new utilitarian piece of apparel or art.

Nicole McLaughlin - Credit: Nicole McLaughlin

H – There is a lot of experimentation in your pieces, however we believe that many of the works are really wearable. ​When can we buy Nicole Mclaughlin’s pieces – it’s getting long ;-)?

N – If you’re interested in my pieces, it’s best to email me at info@nicolemclaughlin.net and let me know what you’re looking for. Everything I do is made by hand, and each piece takes time, so items are limited, but some are available.

H – As you know we are currently in a delicate situation in the world – especially in our country Spain with the Covid 19 – it is said that moments of crisis encourage creativity – How is this situation affecting you from a creative perspective?

N – Any high-pressure situation can push things to the surface. I don’t think you need a crisis to be creative, but it doesn’t hurt to explore opportunities, especially these days.

Personally, I work from home, so the current situation hasn’t necessarily changed my working environment. However, it has made me increasingly more mindful of people, relationships, the planet, and what I’m doing and why I do it.

H – Fashion Weeks have stopped all over the world​. Do you think that fashion should stop for a whole season with all that it involves?

N – I don’t think stopping is necessarily a realistic approach as that’s millions of jobs lost. I think the industry should take this time to rethink their stance on sustainability and circularity, manufacturing, producing, investing in and strengthening their workforce, and really prioritize what’s important.

H – Virgil said that the future of fashion is in second-hand stores, this added to the boom of Upcycling… ​How do you see the future of the fashion system?

N – Nothing is as simple as saying that one thing is the future of anything. Fashion needs a lot of change in order for companies to be able to see beyond the bottom line.

The idea of waste is based on perception – “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Nicole McLaughlin

H – How is the creative process of each element, that is to say… what is the order you follow: the object then materials, materials and experiments…?

N – Each project unfolds in its own way. For example, typically the idea will dictate the type of materials I choose, but it also depends on the project. If I go to a thrift store, I might have something in mind, but if that’s not available, I’ll have to have a back-up. From there the material will shape the object that I’m creating. A lot of the time, things don’t go the way I plan, but I adapt and adjust and the outcome is always natural as it’s never forced.

H – Sometimes we see more presence of some brands than others… ​Is it your decision or do the brands themselves test you by sending material to play?

N – There’s no brand undertone in what I make. It depends on what I’m able to find when I’m vintage shopping or source online. And I always have scraps leftover from projects and collaborations. Nothing gets thrown away.

Book: Nicole McLaughlin - Editor: Ignored Prayers

Book: Nicole McLaughlin – Editor: Ignored Prayers

H – You already have a book, you have made exhibitions… ​What is the next thing you are working on?

N – I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m always working.

#mustfollow: @nicolemclaughlin