Fashion’s scraps get their own line

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Melissa Lockwood met me at her Kingston, NY studio in the late afternoon, having just returned from a meeting with a client in NYC. Her studio is a collection of materials, ideas, and partially crafted pieces that would stretch on forever if not for the physical barriers of the walls. This is as it should be, as creation is never an organized affair. What is being crafted here though?

At first blush you may assume that this is a space where clothing is made, and though that may be an accurate assessment, there’s more that’s actually occurring here. Most of the pieces Lockwood creates are made from material that otherwise would never have seen use. Her brand, IQTEST, was born years ago when Lockwood came upon literal dumpsters of cast-off fabric bound for the landfill. She was taken aback by the sheer amount of waste, and took to gathering materials for what would become her artwork.

“I had only been altering my own clothing up until then, but I saw all the fabric and learned how to sew from there,” she said. The purpose of her work was not directly to create clothing from waste, rather to craft pieces of artwork for people to muse upon; to see what can be made from materials considered by the fashion industry to be waste. In 2010 she won a grant to set up a three-week pop-up shop in Manhattan. Since then Melissa has enjoyed galleries, fashion shows, and even a feature in Vogue UK. “It’s a compliment to even be invited to the shows,” she said. “I love having it work on a fashion show because people can really see what the clothing is about.”

Though focused on the clothing industry, Lockwood’s message is a universal one: We are a wasteful society. Perhaps it’s due to convenience, as its easier to buy new than repair, or in this case discard fabric rather than find uses for the irregular trimmings. The end result of our endless garbage production is so far removed from many people’s daily lives that they likely don’t give it a second thought. And that’s the point really, these pieces of clothing are the second thought people need to see.

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