EFWA 2018 Upcycling Challenge Interview With Tracy Kim of Trixed Up

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

I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to become a fashion designer. I have been making my own clothes for a while now as I was slowly becoming more disillusioned with clothes from most retailers, particularly fast fashion. The quality wasn’t there, and it felt like everything was pretty much the same in every shop. I came across Refashionista and loved what she was doing, and I learnt along the way about the impact that fast fashion was having on the environment as well as ethical manufacturing processes and decided I would try to buy my clothes from the op shop or make them myself for a year. I really enjoyed the thirill of the hunt for the perfect pieces to either wear or transform, knowing I was being environmentally friendly, because you never know what you might find at the op-shop! That has slowly transitioned to making things for others as well, and trying to pursue it as career.

I know you earned a BA from Murdoch University in English, History and Creative writing, but your design/sewing skills are self-taught.  Talk about the highs and lows of studying. What did you find easy? What was a challenge? 
I loved all of the reading working on my degree allowed me to do. I am fascinated by other points of view and thinking about how authors minds work to tell the stories they do. I found I loved putting together my points of view or trying to express an idea through storytelling. 

On the exact flip side of that, I find it very hard to put myself out there for others to judge as I am quite introverted by nature and the thought of pouring myself into a piece to have it negatively received is terrifying. While I do realise that it is all part of the process and a necessary part of growing and becoming a better designer/storyteller, I do struggle to balance to two. 

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? 

At the moment I am a stay at home mum, so trying to find time in between school runs and entertaining my 4 year old, my designing and sewing comes in fits and spurts. I try to be inspired the pieces I am transforming, or the fabrics themselves. Its usually how I approach op-shopping, I don’t necessarily look at everything on the rack, I scan for a fabric that calls to me and then see if I can work with the garment. 

My aesthetic is a little bit edgy, a little bit quirky, a little bit nerdy and most often with a print or pattern. I like to be a little bit different, although not necessarily cutting edge or alternative.
My customers are most likely female, in their 20’s or 30’s who understand the value of hand made and the environmental impact of fast fashion. 

While I don’t currently have a collection, I hope to introduce a new line of sorts each winter and summer, if not each season. I say line of sorts because at the moment I don’t do the same piece in different sizes, I hope to create similar items from my op shops finds that will be unique as well. My latest inspiration is a line of jackets embroidered with art deco designs. 

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? 

I am so thrilled to e part of the Upcycling challenge, thank you again! As you will have realised by now, most definitely yes, that what I do! Sometimes the transformation is as simple as chopping some length of a dress to make it more fashionable. Sometimes the changes are more invisible in that the garment has fit issues and a simple seam or dart can change it from dowdy to fitted. Often I will find items that are damaged so I will change a dress into a skirt to remove the issue if I cant fix it. Other times I will completely remake a piece into something else if the fabric allows, by deconstructing the garment and staring from scratch. I find its about working with the fabric and not trying to force it to do something it cant. 

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

When I saw the challenge, I immediately wanted to enter, because it is something I am passionate about, and while I love labels like Cue that are Australian made and designed, I would really like to have a part in changing perceptions about eco-fashion. My inspiration came from just thinking about how I could make a whole outfit from one men’s shirt (hopefully!) without it looking like a shirt. I also like to work with the existing garment if I can, so I didn’t want to completely deconstruct the shirt, that’s why I have left the button placket on the back of my design. Hopefully the audience can see you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have a fashionable and eco-friendly garment. 

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 want them to know that fashion and environment can work together. I want them to know that just because your Mum or Grandma wore a dress doesn’t mean it cant work for you. I hope to offer not only my own take on eco-fashion but inspiration and the means by way of tutorials and even classes so they can do it too. 

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

I’m honestly not sure what’s next for me. I will keep refashioning at home and hope to grow my presence online through a blog and social media. I would even like to get in some bricks and mortar locations if possible. My long term dreams are to be able to share my hopes for recycling garments with as many as possible and have more people take a critical look at how and where they shop for fashion. 

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