My inspiration has always come from the materials.
Back in 2001, I started making clothing out of vintage floral pillowcases and eclectic trim and selling them at Pike Place Market. A vintage wholesaler noticed my designs and told me that he had an entire warehouse of vintage clothing I should take a look at. During my visit, I fell in love with a batch of men’s wool golf pants. I had been wanting to try making a batch of bags and this thick yet colorful plaid material would be the perfect texture. And so that first batch of bags interestingly came to life from men’s pant legs, and I’ve been incorporating new and reclaimed materials into all of my designs.
Fast forward 15 years later and I had an amazing opportunity come along from Jessica of Fab Scrap. She was launching a commercial scrap recycling non-profit and wanted help with a project to get her business off the ground – I jumped at the chance. She told me that her potential investors questioned whether a designer would actually find value and create something useful and commercially viable from the scraps she collected. She brought me a box of gorgeous scrap leather, which were offcuts from a shoe factory in midtown Manhattan.
I was given two days to sort and cut the leather, draft patterns and create 10 new products using fun animal-print and metallic scrap leather. We created metallic headphone tacos, card wallets, coin pouches, a clutch and a backpack. You can watch our process in the video below.
This Thursday at 10:30pm EST, watch Jessica as a contestant on Project Runway: Fashion Startup. You can also support her Indiegogo fundraiser here where you can get a special-edition Crystalyn Kae reclaimed leather headphone taco or coin pouch as a thank you gift for donating.
Thank you for always supporting our zero-waste fashion initiative. It's more important now than ever before.