ReWork by Elizabeth Yong
Select vintage and found clothing reworked for contemporary wardrobes
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I have been making clothing and knitwear under my clothing label Primoeza for around 9 years. I’ve dabbled in other textiles and craft techniques but never as much as I would have liked. I especially enjoyed working on embroidery (even if it was a naïve, self-taught style), applique and patchwork and incorporated elements of these into my garments when I could.
My involvement with clothing production has been on a small scale but I’ve been dispirited at the resources needed to put even a small clothing collection together. The waste is the excess material left over from production, unsold items and later in the cycle, the clothing in various states of wear. And then in 2016 while visiting Japan, I discovered large, upmarket looking department-like stores selling second hand goods in almost perfect condition. The volume of unwanted goods shocked me.
I became interested in how to create without needing to use brand new materials. I’ve long admired the aesthetics of Japanese mending techniques of Boro and more recently Kintsugi but the ideas behind the craft began to become more relevant to how I might carry out my own work. It is ironic that mending was traditionally a way to extend the life of scarce and valuable materials and now it’s a way to extend the life of items that would be thrown away prematurely in a hyper-disposable culture. The work of Louise Bourgeois has been equally inspiring. Although her work is of a more conceptual nature, she took old and unwanted clothing and made something new from them.
These elements came together giving me a legitimate reason to indulge my love of foraging for second hand garments. I especially started to look for damaged items as their imperfection quickly became my inspiration and now remnant fabric left over from the clothing production has a new purpose. ReWork is literally a reworking of discarded garments and material that have appealed to me in some way. I don’t look for expensive or designer clothing, rather am drawn to the quality of the fabric. Using traditional craft techniques, I enjoy making the unwanted desirable again.
- Elizabeth Yong