Nam had always been drawn to creating something out of clothes that had already been worn, partially for sustainability reasons. “I thought the fabrics were more interesting and I was also encouraged by my teacher to be thinking about social practices. I feel this practice can even be talked about because we are more open to the sustainability conversation,” she says, adding. “[Before] I often felt lost working in this way as it wasn’t in line with the industry.” Currently, she produces one-off for projects and individuals, often from leftovers from other projects, like a knit halter top made of cream, pink, and green swatches, and a patchwork skirt from upholstery fabric, Levi’s jeans, and a thrift store cotton shirt.
In Nam’s work, she also strives to honor the memories that clothing holds, an idea that is perfect for someone like me who sometimes has a hard time letting go of their beloved but never worn pieces. “What happens when you take this brand, mix it with something vintage, and then create a whole new garment? What does that represent?” she says. “Then, I break down those memories and values of those garments and develop a new garment.” Currently, Nam doesn’t create collections and is making pieces one-off for clients and editorials. “How can we stop using so much? There is so much fabric and clothes in the world,” she says. “And yet we’re producing so much more. We could probably create fabrics out of old clothes without producing any more new clothes for a very long time.”
As for my pants? Nam put them into dress form by using several different fabrics, including a pair of donated Levi’s denim jeans, a vintage dress from a sample sale, men’s cotton pajamas from a thrift shop, and a floral-print cotton that was cut from Nam’s own clothing, transforming it into a more downtown-minded patchwork dress. I won’t be able to wear the look just yet, though: It will be displayed at Onomatopee Museum in the Netherlands in an exhibit, #10Dress10Textile, that will include 10 of Nam’s creations made from beloved castoffs.