Nicole McLaughlin DAZED100 2020
Courtesy of Nicole McLaughlin
“I want to start a non-profit giving sustainability-focused design resources to young people

Nicole McLaughlin

Age - 30
 New York, United States
Nicole McLaughlin
“I want to start a non-profit giving sustainability-focused design resources to young people

New York-based designer Nicole McLaughlin’s career began in 2018 as a hobby, making clothes out of highly unusual found objects. From old volleyballs turned into slippers, camera bags made into bralettes, board shorts sewn from packets of Haribo, and egg boxes used as straps in pool sliders, McLaughlin could see the potential in almost any surplus material. “I started with limited knowledge and resources,” she says. “But I didn’t want to be deterred by obstacles that I believed could be easily remedied.”

Today, her work highlights the importance of upcycling, and her tongue-in-cheek designs are a unique way of getting the sustainable fashion message across. ”I create out of passion and hope it gives power to my purpose; one that will help change people’s perception of waste and sustainable design,” she continues.

Last year, the designer collaborated with Depop to mark Earth Day, worked on a footwear campaign in Shanghai, and devised a special workshop for Nike. With a debut book now in the pipeline, McLaughlin has turned what once was a side project into a full-time focus.

When it comes to your work, what are you most proud of?

Nicole McLaughlin: I am grateful for the opportunity to help change perceptions around waste, and help people see the possibilities and potential in everyday items. To offer a visual example for how other people can create from discarded materials has not only been an experiment for me, but a fun exploration of my own imagination and curiosity.

What or who gives you hope and why?

Nicole McLaughlin: I try and find hope wherever I can, especially nowadays. At the moment, I’m thankful for the continuing shift of businesses/people wanting to create products more ethically. I am hopeful that future generations of designers who care about our planet are actively trying to solve these issues. And I am especially grateful for the support I have received from my followers and the community of DIY designers on social media. 

“Not being able to get new materials takes me back to the earlier stages of my career. (Amid coronavirus) you lean on your ingenuity, and see what happens” – Nicole McLaughlin

How has the Coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, and/or your community?

Nicole McLaughlin: It’s a surreal time, especially in New York. So many people in my community are affected by the pandemic physically, mentally, and financially. Not being able to get new materials and having to rely on things around the house takes me back to the earlier stages of my career. But, you work with what you have, lean on your ingenuity, and see what happens.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Nicole McLaughlin: I’m developing a non-profit organisation that helps provide much-needed design resources to young people, connecting large companies – especially those with deadstock and overstock materials – to schools and universities in need. I’m hoping this leads to a regular series of workshops with a continued focus on sustainability, and eventually, a summer programme focused on education and skill-based 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. A Dazed 100 grant could ultimately lay the foundation for this.

Hannah Tindle

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