Our dear friend, fashion designer, seamstress and percussionist, Molly Morgan, would rather take-away than add to the second-hand finds she is using for her newest, upcycled, 90s-inspired collection. Her thorough experience as a seamstress lends to her tendency towards classic, well-made garments with long-lasting appeal and away from a particular concentration on fleeting trends.
Please give our readers some background info about you and your work.
I grew up in the California Bay Area, first in Marin county which is just north of San Francisco, ’til I was 18, then moved to Oakland where I lived, mostly in different industrial spaces, until I was 23. I went to school during this time at F.I.D.M in San Francisco, where I graduated with an A.A. in fashion design in 2007. Then, just 6 months after graduating, I moved to Berlin where I have been living since.
During the first two years I was in Berlin, I did two internships with local fashion houses, the first with a woman and her label of the same name Maren Finke, the second a small company by the name of Hypnosis-Berlin, where I now work as the head seamstress.
You’ll be with us at the next event with your new collection as well as providing your seamstress skills for the community at affordable rates. Can you tell us what excites you about doing an upcycled collection?
Although I really love designing and producing fashion from the more traditional approach of pattern making/draping and using yardage fabric, there is a real excitement and appeal about upcycling and working with already produced, used clothing due to its limitations, which does, of course, inspire me to work outside of my comfort zone. With the collection I will debut at the Funky Fresh Event, I am using colors and prints that are new for me and feel somehow like discovered treasures. I used to work in a vintage clothing shop when I was a teenager. I learned how to mend, wash and really clean-up old clothing there, but I wasn’t satisfied with that, because in the end the old clothes were still old, but this idea that I can take something undesirable and outdated and transform it into something fresh and new, I find really appealing. Truth be told, more often than not, all a garment needs in order to be more wearable, is a new hemline, and suddenly it’s modern. I also am attracted to simple solutions like new zippers, new buttons, shorter hemlines, and more stream lined silhouettes – I’m not trying to totally reinvent something in my approach to upcycling, but rather mend something broken, then strip away the fuss to reveal the beauty I see lying under the surface.
With your work and style, you have a tendency to prefer simplicity, classic cuts and basic shapes. What is up with that?
Well, I guess it’s that personally I often love experimenting with my style, and I know a lot of people like that. Maybe it’s because I’m still young and still exploring my likes and dislikes and as I get older, and start refining my sensibility, I’m learning I appreciate clothing that can adapt along the way. I admire garments that have an adaptable aesthetic depending on how one accessorizes. Take the simple black dress as a perfect example – with different make-up, jewelry and shoes, one dress can have a dozen looks. This to me is what sustainability is all about. Clothing that is not only consciously produced but clothing that can withstand fleeting trends and can last decades. I also am really inspired by active lifestyles and I prefer what I wear to not only reflect that but encourage it. To me the perfect outfit is something I can bike across town in, go grocery shopping in, maybe even withstand some spontaneous yoga in the park, and with perhaps different shoes and a few thoughtfully chosen jewelry pieces could be totally acceptable as an evening option.
The great thing about providing affordable clothing alternation services is that it’s one of the best ways to get more use out of the things you already have. What type of pieces do you love working with and what kind of satisfaction do you get out of mending previously loved items?
At this point in my life I can’t say I have a huge fashion budget, and being a tailor I have acquired a taste for well-made garments. And, while many people assume I can simply make all my own clothes (and yes I have made a number of these garments hanging in my closet) this can be very time consuming. Living in Berlin, I have taken full advantage of the affordable second-hand clothing that is available, but being a tailor I am very, very, rarely satisfied with the fit or final detailing of clothing that I find second-hand. So, over the last few years I have gotten really good at upcycling for myself, and I have to admit it becomes very addictive, so when I run out of projects for myself I have turned to friends to see if anyone has stuff they want altered. Sure enough EVERYONE has at least one or two garments that sit in their closet that they aren’t quite ready to give away, but that they never really wear because they either the fit isn’t quite right, or they never liked certain details about them. This is where I can have a lot of fun. It’s like custom-fit, second-hand couture. And because I’m not creating a garment from scratch (since I have a foundation to work with) I can really keep the costs down AND indulge in time-consuming hand work and detailing.