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Nicole McLaughlin DAZED100 2020
Courtesy of Nicole McLaughlin

DIY designer Nicole McLaughlin talks socks with sandals and secret skills

The Dazed 100-er takes our quickfire pop quiz

The Dazed 100 is back, but not as you know it. For 2020, we’ve partnered with Converse to spotlight not only 100 of the world’s most creative, outspoken, and passionate next-gen names, but also their creative and philanthropic ideas. Check out the full list, and vote for Nicole McLaughlin’s idea – which is up for a grant from the £50,000 Dazed and Converse Ideas Fund – here

Chances are you’ll be familiar with Nicole McLaughlin’s work, given her unique DIY creations are shared far and wide across social media. Using found objects to piece together imaginative, covetable clothing – think slippers made from fluorescent Wilson tennis balls, gilets crafted from fun-sized cereal packets, and sports shorts constructed using salvaged Carhartt beanies – what started as a hobby in 2018 has amassed the New York-based designer almost 500,000 followers. 

Taking her message of sustainability and working with what you have further through her Dazed 100 proposal, McLaughlin is hoping to win a grant to get her plan for a non-profit educational organisation underway. Initially providing disadvantaged schools and universities with resources like deadstock material and offcuts, she hopes the program will give way to regular workshops and summer schools that focus on skill development and growth. “The curriculum will teach you that design is more than just drawing and making; there needs to be an understanding of ‘how’ and ‘why’, and what we can do to change the future,” she says.

Here, the designer takes the Dazed 100 pop quiz, answering a series of quick-fire questions which reveal her (guilt-ridden) love of Animal Crossing and TikTok, her fluency in sign language, and what household appliance she thinks is drastically overrated. Get to know her below and head here to vote for her idea.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Nicole McLaughlin: An orthopedist because I broke a lot of bones as a kid.

What clique were you in in high school?

Nicole McLaughlin: Art kids/Band kids/Sport kids.

Who gave you your first break?

Nicole McLaughlin: The Reebok Apprenticeship Program.

Why do you do what you do?

Nicole McLaughlin: Because it constantly challenges me and it’s never boring.

When do you feel most creative?

Nicole McLaughlin: Late night is when I design things — I think of most of my ideas the moment right before I fall asleep.

“Don’t be afraid to act on any idea that you have because you think it’s too weird” – Nicole McLaughlin

How do you get over an artistic block?

Nicole McLaughlin: Work through it. As much as it makes me frustrated and I want to just chill or hang out and not think, I find that I do much better if I make things even if they fail. I almost always can pull myself out of it just from that small amount of creative energy.

Name three things that inspire you?

Nicole McLaughlin: Thrifting, random everyday objects, travelling.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Nicole McLaughlin: Porches.

If you could own one piece of art, what would it be?

Nicole McLaughlin: City by Michael Heizer.

What’s the last thing you made?

Nicole McLaughlin: A shoe that has a pencil sharpener built into the sole so you can sharpen your pencils on the go!

What’s a lesson that you learned the hard way?

Nicole McLaughlin: You can’t please everyone.

Which fictional character do you most identify with?

Nicole McLaughlin: Beatrix Kiddo.

What’s your secret talent?

Nicole McLaughlin: I’m fluent in sign language.

What’s overrated?

Nicole McLaughlin: Roombas.

What’s underrated?

Nicole McLaughlin: Socks with sandals.

What keeps you motivated?

Nicole McLaughlin: It’s always the previous project that I worked on because I want to keep improving and pushing myself to make something even better.

“There is a major lack of funding for art and design in schools. Empowering the youth creatively is so important because they are the future” – Nicole McLaughlin

Which film do you never get bored of?

Nicole McLaughlin: Call Me by Your Name. 

What song is stuck in your head right now?

Nicole McLaughlin: “Air Supply” by Sweet Trip.

What are you embarrassed to admit?

Nicole McLaughlin: I haven’t stopped watching TikTok this entire quarantine.

What did you dream last night?

Nicole McLaughlin: I’ve been having a lot of dreams about my teeth falling out.

What piece of clothing means the most to you?

Nicole McLaughlin: My National Geographic shoes.

What’s the last lie that you told?

Nicole McLaughlin: That I didn’t get my boyfriend and anniversary present when I really did.

What advice would you give your past self?

Nicole McLaughlin: Don’t be afraid to act on any idea that you have because you think it’s too weird.

What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Nicole McLaughlin: Animal Crossing.

What will the world look like in 2050?

Nicole McLaughlin: Hopefully more accepting and eco-conscious, that uses technology for good. 

What’s a misconception people often have about you?

Nicole McLaughlin: People sometimes think I’m a brand that has production capabilities, when it’s just me hand-making these projects.

“Late night is when I design things — I think of most of my ideas the moment right before I fall asleep” – Nicole McLaughlin

What book changed your life?

Nicole McLaughlin: Start With Why by Simon Sinek. 

What does community mean to you?

Nicole McLaughlin: A genuine support system that empowers one another.

How does your community inspire your creativity?

Nicole McLaughlin: My community inspires me through their passion and motivation, as well as the conversations we have. The DIY community is so strong, and there are so many ideas that are shared which make me feel optimistic and inspired for the future.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Nicole McLaughlin: My mom; she has the strongest work ethic of anyone I know. She’s shown me how far you can push yourself as a woman, mother, and as a creative. I aspire to maintain the level of passion she has for her work.

What song hits you the hardest?

Nicole McLaughlin: “Just” by Bicep. 

What issues are you most passionate about?

Nicole McLaughlin: Global climate change, fast fashion, and social equality.

Who do you think is making real change in the world?

Nicole McLaughlin: Eileen Fisher, who has been a pioneer in the sustainable fashion world. She created a circular fashion model, and has opened up her resources and knowledge to people/brands who are looking to make a change in the way they produce. 

If you were in charge for a day, what law would you invent?

Nicole McLaughlin: Universal free healthcare.

Explain your Dazed 100 grant idea in one sentence?

Nicole McLaughlin: My goal is to create a non-profit focused on young people, providing them with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to design and think sustainably. 

Why should people support your idea?

Nicole McLaughlin: There is a major lack of funding for art and design in schools. Empowering the youth creatively is so important because they are the future. We need to provide them with the tools they need for them to be successful and to help create solutions in the most ethical and sustainable way possible.

Vote for Nicole McLaughlin’s idea on the 2020 Dazed 100 now.