CLaudia Magrina

WE INTERVIEW LAURA SIEGEL

CLaudia Magrina
WE INTERVIEW LAURA SIEGEL

We need more people like Laura working so hard to give something to the humanity taking care about the planet.

The 25-year-old Toronto native launched her collection in 2011 after a long trip around Asia and getting her education from Parsons The New School for Design in NYC and Central Saint Martins in London.

"Having met so many inspiring artisans, where craft is deeply connected to their culture, I developed a vision that sustained their cultures and incorporated their craft with my personal aesthetic,"

Your manufacturing process is very special. Why made you decide to approach this way of production? Can you talk us through the journey of your products, from the field to the wardrobe? 

When I was a student at Parson’s School of Design, I took a year off to travel around the world where for the first time I encountered a different side of the design process, manufacturing. Later in life I would witness overpopulated factories in pollution-filled regions, overbearing tolls of dye mills, poor working conditions and horribly managed factories, but at this point, I was experiencing a much more pleasant and optimistic point of view on possibilities within the manufacturing landscape. I would manage to get off the beaten path and ride a bike or take the bus to more rural regions. Submerged in the middle of nowhere (in a remote village in the mountains, for example), I would find someone practicing an ancient craft passed down from generation to generation. This is how I came to witness and understand the process of creating thoughtful, artisanal products.  The artisans I met showed love for their craft and generously spent days teaching me their skills. I learnt to crochet near Pai, I interacted with silversmiths in India and Bali, I worked with leather-smiths, tailors and tribes in the hills of Vietnam who practiced embroidery techniques and knitting coops that employ women in Peru and Bolivia. I saw how their craft significantly impacted their daily life, how it allowed them to continue their culture in today’s quickly developing world, and I observed the sincere love and enjoyment the people have for their craft.

It was in this formative time of exploration and experimentation that it occurred to me: by working with these communities, there was an opportunity to reverse the effects of my industry on the environment, the people it employs and the lack of transparency offered to the end consumer. I found a strong connection with these artisans, their beautiful crafts, the natural environments they called home, and left feeling committed to creating opportunities for them on a global scale.

Did the process change your view of understanding the market? 

It did in some aspects. In others, I was only just forming my understanding of the market being only 20 and having spent more time with artisans than in any factory.  Working one on one to develop textiles with each artisan, family, or NGO is how I learned and really all I knew. I scaled with this concept and way of thinking.

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How would clothing adapt to the environment situation? What do you think is the biggest challenge that the fashion industry faces?

We live in a culture of new things becoming available so frequently at very low price-points, making it easy to fall into the habit of buying a lot more than we actually need. 

Changing consumer habits is ideal, towards the culture of buying less but of higher quality. Given that we can't expect everyone to change, as designers and engineers find ways to repurpose fibers, materials and reverse the consumptive affect on our planet.

Do you think the customer is more conscious regarding sustainable matters? 

Yes, more now than ever.

How did your education in Parson in New York and London´s Central Saint Martins´ reflect in your creations?

Both allowed me to explore and define my identity, and build a community of people that are my inspiration and support system to this day. 

What is your KEY piece of this season? 

Hand knit baby alpaca one shoulder collar sweater and the handwoven one-shoulder fringe poncho.

Do you engage any other social initiative? 

Most social initiatives that I get involved in revolve around sustaining crafts and culture. I just returned from a trip to West Bengal to meet with communities and NGOs that are sustaining and practicing ancient crafts.  The hope is to add this region to our range of crafts and cultures we are working with and assisting in sustaining the culture there. This type of social research is done annually or semi-annually depending on the year.