EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview With Gigi Forget of Sal-vij by Gigi

Please share a bit about about the journey that led you to embrace fashion design as a career.

Since very young, I remember being cast as an oddity due to a severe speech impediment I had. I came to the realization that from my perception moving forwards, I treasured anything or anyone who was odd or out of the ordinary as I could relate to them on an emotional level. Thereby how I dressed became my passion; a way to act out who I was on the inside because speech was not a possible method at the time. 

I am also tactile person and have always been drawn to colors and textures. Anything I could find around me in my home and nature became my medium to create clothes for dolls. From that point, I moved into creating a line art onto glassware and then in my later years, a door opened for me to study fashion design. My love and passion of fabric and color has brought me full circle.

I know you trained at...VCAD (Vancouver College of Arts and Design. Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge?

One of the biggest highs for me was to be in school learning something that I’ve been passionate about most of my life, playing and learning about fabric! Being back in school after 25 plus years was a struggle at the get go but then it became my life. I am certainly not finished with studying. My aim is to continue learning new means of fabric manipulation and learning more about on hand stitching clothes without the use of machines 

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you, or do you plan to, offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

I am very tactile, love color, texture, asymmetry, oddities and irregularities. Basically anything goes with me because that’s just how life happens. We are never really in control of anything and I project that into my art pieces. There is always something quirky in my looks which then projects uniqueness, which we all are no matter what is broadcast to us via the media.

One long term goal I have is to plan for my retirement by designing and creating one of a kind pieces by hand using lots of sewing techniques in each piece. Creating walking art pieces, that are cherished, loved and profitable for everyone concerned. 

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson and Dalija Vlahov. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how?

While in school, my final collection was 75% reclaimed fabric and the rest was dead stock cashmere/wool and organic bamboo. For over 20 years, I’ve been revamping clothes mostly by hand. Hand me downs was a very common thing in my life being the youngest of 6 children. My home in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories is mostly made from a reclaimed trailer and salvaged construction material from our local dump. As there are no fabric stores here in our fair city, one has to depend on thrift stores and summer yard sales. 

Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

The theme for my look is Till Death Do Us Part series 2.

Its all a part of educating as much as showcasing. That’s my biggest hope is to display another means of looking and seeing discarded waste as wearable art. This line showcases what is important is recognizing what we see is not always what the truth or story is. How long the fabric used in this collection would have taken to breakdown in mother earth’s womb versus prolonging the inevitable and breathing a whole new life into several of those cast away shirts. We as humans may never outlive the bulk of our clothes so why not try to get the most out of them while we are still alive. With this line, I’ve incorporated more texture, asymmetry and did an “I spy with my little eye”...Lets see who gets them. 
Upcycled men’s shirts created into pants.
What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you and what you offer (or hope to offer) the world of fashion?

I feel what’s important to be made aware is to not only look at this as fashion but be open to seeing it in other dimensions. There is so much more like branding one’s own sense of style, the story behind each piece, the romance created by the encounter, art, education, gaining human compassion and on and on. Fashion is but one component, a plateau to showcase the love of the creation but not to lead the audience astray with the bombardment of the media’s fixed interpretation. 

What's next for you? What are your long term dreams?

Continue the learning curve of fabric manipulation and learning what more can be done to make my business full circle. Fair trade practices in 3rd world countries has been calling to me for some time as well…and of course travelling to seek out new textile adventures. Who knows what the wind will blow my way.

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