Toronto designer who 'upcycles' vintage fabric up for US$15,000 prize
Alexandra Mae Jones, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, August 4, 2019 9:58PM EDT
Twenty-three Canadian designers have been nominated in online retailer Etsy’s first-ever Design Awards, including a Toronto native who creates eye-catching clothing from upcycled vintage textiles. The grand prize winner could take home US$15,000, which is almost CAD$20,000.
Isla Cowan, designer and founder of Heavy Flow, is one of the talented Canadians who nabbed a nomination. She says a desire for “ethical” clothing is part of what put her there.
“All of Heavy Flow’s products are made using vintage textiles,” she told CTV News Channel on Sunday. “They’re all handmade, either by myself or a member of our team.”
“I think there’s just so many existing textiles, clothes, stuff like curtains, upholstery fabric … that we really don’t need to be … creating more waste with (new) textiles,” she said.
“It’s a huge strain on our environment so I really believe in reusing what we already have on our planet.”
Etsy is an online marketplace where users can create their own shops and sell handmade and vintage goods.
The Etsy Design Awards have five sections: Inventive Decor, Signature Style, Festive Celebrations, Earth-Friendly, and Creative Collaborations. Each section has between 25 and 37 finalists nominated with more than 150 products nominated in total. Cowan is nominated in the Earth-Friendly category.
Etsy was founded in 2005, and the site says that they have 41 million active buyers, and over 50 million items for sale. This is the first time they have held Design Awards.
Cowan said that it was “definitely an amazing feeling,” to get such a good response to her clothing.
The piece she is nominated for is called the Satellite Jacket. Cowan describes it as a “60s-inspired swing coat with a modern pleat and some modern cuts.”
The jacket is made from a repurposed tablecloth from the 1970s and has a distinctly modern style despite its vintage roots. The pixelated effect of blue and green squares adds to the look.
Like all of Cowan’s work, it’s one of a kind.
“I think people who have purchased our products in the past really enjoy having … a very special piece,” Cowan said. “They’re the only person that’s going to have it.”
On the Heavy Flow Etsy page, the same style of jacket is made in several different fabrics. That means buyers can still get their hands on the swing coat in “Scotch,” or “Velvet Peacock.”
If Cowan wins the prize money, she says she will invest more in her business and buy more vintage materials.
But first? “I’m going to take my interns out for dinner. They’ve worked really hard with me,” she said.
The winners will be announced in September.