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Designer Spotlight | Julie Klein

Q&A with Julie Klein

What is your collection about?

WISH YOU CARED is about plastic and waste in the Great Lakes and Niagara River, drawing attention to conservation efforts and our interaction with our local environment. The world around us is in desperate need of radical change. As plastics accumulate in our waters, we as individuals must realize and act on our part to change the way we impact our world, starting locally.

How did you use “Voices” in your collection?

As an artist and a designer, I want to use my voice to be a voice for others, raise awareness, and actively work towards creating a better world. Each piece in this collection speaks to and reminds the viewer, as well as the wearer, of the issue and their connection to it.  For me, “voices” is about being a voice and raising your voice so others hear you and hopefully care just enough to help make your voice louder. All movements, whether big or small, have multiple voices amplified into one.

Have you had to pivot and change your designs?

Fortunately, I’m a bit of a hoarder and most of my collection has been assembled with stuff I already have. Some of my designs had to change due to lack of fabric, but as a whole anything that couldn’t work as originally intended, I took the time to problem-solve to make it still work.

Who inspired your collection?

Its Inspired by local movements like Plastic Free Buffalo and local artist Alexis Oltmer, as well as my personal connection to the issue. Over the years I’ve grown obsessive over water and the sea, surrounding myself with reminders of my childhood, growing up swimming and boating on the Niagara River.  I used to collect random objects I’d find in the river as a kid such as doorknobs and plastic pieces. I remember an area by my house where geese would lay their eggs in washed-up tires. Looking at my home now, I see that while climbing trees over the water along the shore, I played with trash and discarded plastics that are still there to this day. This is an issue that is important to me, as well as the place I grew up and I want others to care about it too; our home and our earth shouldn’t be filled with trash to the point that kids grow up like me,thinking that’s normal when it’s anything

How have you overcome the challenges of creating a collection during this uncertain time? For me it’s hard to get myself focused. I procrastinate by starting new projects, so it’s important that I have people encouraging me to keep working and to push myself to make this because I really care about it. I can’t say how I’ve overcome it though, because every day I’m overcoming it. I have a hard time focusing and remembering to do things anyway, but it’s worse now. So,every day is a new day to push myself to do something towards my collection as I am dedicated.

Who are some of your favorite designers, fashion writers, stylists, photographers, etc.? I love art so I have to include artists in this list: Frida Kahlo, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Elsa Schiaparelli, Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Pierre Cardin, Anna Piaggi, Yayoi Kusama, and Norman Norell. It’s hard to pinpoint all my favorites because as I learn more, the list grows. How do you think the fashion industry can improve? From an environmental perspective, the industry’s impact is significant. Resource usage and pollution are high due to the copious amounts of production required to meet consumer demand.In addition to environmental issues, there are social issues, too. Illegal practices tend to be unethical within the fashion industry, yet unethical practices are not always necessarily illegal. In my opinion, as we move towards sustainability within the design, we have to consider all costs, including the people involved. I think that the industry can strive to be more ethical from an environmental and social standpoint. How have you been able to keep in touch with your creative intuition while coping with COVID-19? As an artist and designer, creativity is a major part of my life. I have always longed to be an artist and during these times when anxiety and other personal issues can be a block in productivity, I find drawing from nature for my friends keeps me feeling okay. While it comforts me, it also puts me into a better mindset for working on my collection and other projects where I need to feel inspired. How will COVID-19 affect the future of fashion? I think this is just going to increase the industries move into online spaces. While I think physical shows will still exist in the future because fashion has texture and movement that work better in person, I do think that retail is going to have to adjust more quickly to what was already happening before this. Brick and mortar stores thrive on consumer relationships and strong values, which is why I think local stores are more suitable for brick and mortar as they can build relationships with consumers. But I think fast fashion may move online completely. Where do you see yourself within fashion as your ideal job? Ideally, my dream job is to curate my own brand and create wearable art and visual productions to showcase that. I’d love to work in various areas of the industry, from CAD, creative director, fashion design, fashion history, and conservation, as well as in graphic design and advertisements. For me, that means learning and becoming skilled in multiple areas and pushing myself as a creative.

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