Stella Lee is confronting her very own consumerism with bootleg equipment built from upcycled packaging
With all its Shein hauls, live shopping streams, and DHgate dupes, there’s a tendency to discuss about young people on TikTok as if they are all perpetrators of ecological and cultural collapse. But these varieties of tensions – of wanting to be viewed as classy without the need of having to sift by second-hand retailers or invest thousands of kilos on designer apparel – have usually been endemic to consumerism. Zoom out a minor, and lots of TikTok customers are educating their audiences on substitute Diy methods. Stella Lee is a material designer in San Francisco and has a mild-hearted response to these sorts of anxieties: bringing a scalpel to Loewe, Gucci, Pimples Studios, and Hermès paper buying bags and dissecting them into their element pieces to craft bonkers and brainy add-ons on the affordable.
Her videos (substantially like those people of Tanner Leatherstein) are of times of manner ASMR – a hand blade gliding as a result of high priced packaging, the perforations of a sewing equipment, the slice of a zipper. But there’s also a schadenfreude that will come from deconstructing the form of goods we have a tendency to retain as souvenirs, stashed in domestic cabinets ‘just in case’. “I was managing these products and labels as more than just parts of paper and trash,” Lee says, introducing that she’s compulsively hoarded wrapping paper and gift bags considering that she was a youngster. “I was projecting position, belonging, hoopla, or escapism onto them. And to be genuine, it is usually a cathartic expertise chopping up these resources I once regarded as valuable.” Her attempts result in Frankensteined Chanel x Gucci ballet flatforms or Loewe boot-legs, for which she’s not that bothered about acquiring a stop and desist letter. If everything, it’s a “compliment”.
Down below, Stella Lee talks about the reduction of destroying her own Victoria’s Solution bras, rising footwear from cress, and reclaiming the squander that she has personally created.
Can you introduce on your own to our audience a very little, make sure you? What is actually your name, exactly where are you living, what’s your background in layout, how did you get below?
Stella Lee: I’m a content designer and artist currently residing in San Francisco. Nevertheless I was born in the United States, my formative many years had been spent in Seoul. Upon returning to the States for large university, I was lucky to safe transformative internships that cemented my enthusiasm for content layout. These included positions at Less than Armour and Nike, as well as a arms-on practical experience at a knitting producing manufacturing unit in Peru. In 2017, I relocated to New York and expended 4 and a 50 percent a long time as a bra surface designer for Victoria’s Mystery. But I always felt compelled to check out my own resourceful language and force my boundaries as an artist. And this is exactly where the shoe tale begins.
You mentioned that you’ve generally been obsessed with packaging. Why is that? What are you making an attempt to maintain on to when you hoard packaging?
Stella Lee: It all started when I was a child. I utilized to gather Christmas wrapping papers or rather searching luggage to embellish my journal or make cards. As I grew more mature, I realised that my attachment to these seemingly trivial objects ran deeper than just their aesthetic charm. In Alec Leach’s e book, The Globe is on Hearth But We are However Shopping for Sneakers, he talks about how objects can transcend their materialistic price and receive that means through projection. I was managing these packaging elements and labels a lot more than just items of paper and trash due to the fact I was projecting position, belonging, buzz, or escapism on to them. And to be straightforward, it’s usually a cathartic experience reducing up these elements I the moment regarded precious.
But this was also a lockdown hobby, suitable?
Stella Lee: Through the top of the pandemic, when the planet was in a point out of uncertainty and unrest, my need to make was also at its apex and I located inspiration in a workshop led by Helen Kirkum. Her on the web tutorial on setting up shoes working with recyclable resources resonated deeply with me. I nonetheless don’t forget repurposing a Vogue journal, an egg carton, and a beer box. The conclude result wasn’t ideal, but this experience manufactured me realise that using shoes as a car or truck could potentially be a quite exciting way to investigate new products. In spite of staying confined to my condominium, I begun experimenting with all sorts of recyclable products that I experienced lying about thanks to all the COVID deliveries. Soon after the workshop, the to start with of many footwear have been born, the Amazon Key shoe!
Do you have a favorite creation? Why do you consider your movies are resonating so a lot with persons?
Stella Lee: The Pink bra collection (sneaker and the heel) is likely my favorite since it ideal contextualises my function. Even though I was doing work at my corporate occupation, I couldn’t enable but question my part and how it contributed to the manner industry’s most important dilemma, waste. So I intentionally ordered just one of the actual bras that I experienced made, took it apart, and used it to make a shoe. It was my way of externalising that internal conflict. But I really don’t imagine which is why folks relate to my perform. Most likely it is the universal charm of the footwear?
It truly is humorous due to the fact your models are each a sustainable transforming of waste and an ode to consumption. Do you assume there is certainly a url there?
Stella Lee: 100 for each cent. The hyperlink is the irony alone. When my sneakers in the beginning stemmed from a curiosity for experimenting with supplies, the materials by themselves would not exist experienced I not been an active participant in shopper lifestyle. So, in a way, I am reclaiming the squander that I have individually generated. This paradox represents the extremely conflict that I grapple with, as I take into account the influence of fashion on our planet’s local climate unexpected emergency. To certainly realize my role in the procedure, I have interaction in sincere discussions with myself, reflecting on the motivations guiding my buys and the hopes and desires that I bought into. In the end, I figure out that fashion goes beyond just apparel.
Are your models really wearable or do you think about them far more artwork objects? And are you fearful you could possibly get a stop and desist letter from models?
Stella Lee: I perspective my layouts as artwork objects, even if they could possibly be worn. Some men and women have asked if I’ll ever develop a brand, or make professional products to sell. I inform them an additional fashion brand name is the past matter every person demands ideal now!
As for the chance of getting cease and desist letters from makes, I would acquire it as a compliment that my do the job was recognised. But what I definitely hope for is to discover a solution in which we can perform collectively in its place of versus each individual other. Let me be very clear while, my perform would not intention to protect or shame any individual models or consumerism as a entire. Corporate responsibility in the fashion industry is essential, but we also require to admit the difficult work that goes into creating these variations a actuality. And although it is really simple to stage fingers at manufacturers, it’s similarly crucial to take a hard search at ourselves and the tough possibilities we require to impact in buy to make a genuine effect on the setting.
I saw you’ve got also been experimenting with escalating your have components. In which would you like all of this to direct you occupation-wise? What is actually the intention?
Stella Lee: My present-day quick-phrase objective is to showcase an exhibition that talks about the paradoxical nature of fashion and consumerism and then I’m heading to intention to press the boundaries of my design even additional. Even though there have been outstanding advancements in acquiring novel biomaterials, there is still a substantial gap involving shoppers and businesses that desires to be bridged. I will use initiatives like the microgreen shoe to provoke conversations about the intersection of style, products, and the ecosystem.