Breaking the Pattern

In an age where craftsmanship in fast fashion is non-existent, Aporeei goes backwards to move forwards, reverse engineering rare pieces found at flea markets and charity shops into things wholly new.



Breaking the Pattern

Featured Designer_ Beata Modrzynska, Aporeei

Where are you based_ Warsaw

Where did you study_ HEAD, Geneva, Switzerland 

What year did you graduate_ 2015

When did you first start employing the process of upcycling in your work_

In 2014, my second year of studies. I liked to use vintage tablecloths, curtains and coupons of vintage upholstery fabrics both for mockups and finished pieces. Geneva has an amazing flea market and charity shops, where I used to scavenge for rare pieces, which I would often open up, analyze and incorporate in my work either as a construction principle or fabric itself.

What inspired you to start upcycling discarded materials_ 

I gravitated towards upcycling practices for both practical and sentimental reasons. Coming into fashion from a product design background I felt I needed to hone my pattern-making and garment creating skills. I really wanted to get to the core of it, so I was buying second hand clothes and breaking them down, to unravel the “engineering” behind each piece. From there, I would go on with changing the base garments further, or using parts of it for new pieces. 

When prototyping I would replace standard calico with second hand bedsheets and curtains most of the time. Later on I incorporated upcycled materials in a few garments of my graduate collection, like a little yellow strapless top made from a coupon of vintage raw silk from the 70s.

What materials do you use in your work_

Depending on the project, I would either work directly on the piece for example, selecting a second hand item and transforming it with few cuts and ornamental holes. Generally I go for deadstock fabrics from local suppliers and found materials. The latter are the most precious, because of their sentiment loaded past lives. Stuff like linen tablecloths with stains, delicate openwork lace, raw cotton and decorative bed sheet textiles I have been collecting over years now. 

Where do you find your materials_

Gifts from family members that know about my sewing passion, treasures found in second hand stores and on online auctions. I have also found a discarded bag full of vintage clothes on the street. Sometimes people leave clothes hanging in the garbage dump and if I see I can fix it I take it.

How does the process of upcycling inform your work_

Upcycling is reverse engineering the creative process. I think of it sometimes in surgical terms =how to make as little cuts as possible for maximum effect in style and as little waste as possible. I like the challenge of working with defined limitations. Having a whole bolt of fabric to use freely might just not be the only way to let one’s creativity go wild.

When designing upcycled pieces for my brand I am usually going for gender and size neutral styles, for accessibility and effortless wear. It gives me a feeling of greater control over the process, as there would be just one pattern. Uniqueness is bound with upcycling, yet with this approach I can achieve certain regularity and reproduce the piece if the material is available.

What role does the process of upcycling play in the fashion industry today? What about in the future? How do you see the craft evolving_

Upcycling is not a new mentality when it comes to the way we relate with things, yet I feel it has definitely gone from niche to trend. I am happy about this, even when done by big fashion players, that are far from artisanal and unique garment transformations.

Paraphrasing Victor Papanek's claim from Design for the Real World, the best thing to do would be to stop designing anything new at all, no more adding of garbage to this cluttered world. Upcycling does add new value without taking anything new from the ground. I believe that raising awareness around the climate crisis made customers more receptive to the aesthetic that discloses the process of regeneration. Upcycling is beautiful and I see it becoming big and empowering for many small designers and makers, hopefully changing our consumption models from big brands to more diversified options.

What is the role of the designer in these times_

The role of designer is one of facilitator and poet, inspiring others to go beyond and look for transcendence there is to be had in life itself.

If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be_

More gentle kindness and less gatekeeping when it comes to sharing business knowledge with others.

What advice would you give other young designers_ Don’t ignore your gut.

What’s up next for you_ I hope to dig into digital garments soon!

— Beata Modrzynska lives and works in Warsaw. /  

“Upcycling adds new value without taking anything new from the ground.” — Aporeei

Breaking the Pattern





Related Stories