It’s all about the United States with the presidential elections in full swing so Sneaker Spirit is exploring up-and-coming designers in America. So we’re heading to New York with the designer Nicole McLaughlin who can turn trash into treasure. Say what? Recycled and sustainable designs all with a good helping of quirky fun.
Just like the Greek King Midas who could turn anything he touched into gold, there are people who can turn anything they get their hands on into a work of art. Nicole McLaughlin is one of them. Things that you and me would tend to throw in the recycling bin, like an old football or Haribo wrapper, Nicole McLaughlin would turn them into a pair of shoes or shorts.
She was born in New Jersey and now lives in the Big Apple. She earned her stripes at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania where she started studying speech therapy but ended up graduating in digital media technology. She had no specific experience designing clothes or footwear but got a one year apprenticeship at Reebok which led to her working on the Vetements x Reebok collaboration. The young creative was then hired as a graphic designer for Reebok Classic.
In the meantime she learnt to sew, stick and assemble pieces and threw herself into all kinds of upcycled designs that she posted on social media. Her process is eco-friendly, refined, playful, original and packed with humour. Her exciting take on materials gives her a unique opportunity to promote the message for sustainability so we can change how we see waste. Her famous designs actually tend to be temporary as Nicole McLaughlin is constantly reusing materials.
Once she was crowned the queen of upcycling, Nicole McLaughlin left her job at Reebok to devote herself entirely to design. Since then she’s been working with different brands for design workshops with a focus on environmental issues: everyone from Nike and adidas to the Depop platform have called on her talent. The woman who turns sneaker uppers into suitcases, sandwiches into jackets and tennis balls into slippers has recently founded a charity. What’s the plan? To bring big brands together with schools and universities lacking funds so they can access any deadstock and unused materials.