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ARTICLE: Nicole McLaughlin: Designer, Climber and Upcycling Icon

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 UKC Articles 10 Sep 2020
Nicole McLaughlin: designer, climber and upcycling icon.

Natalie Berry speaks to New York-based designer, climber and upcycling pioneer Nicole McLaughlin about how climbing inspires her work, sustainability in outdoor fashion and how to get creative with what you already have in your gear cupboard...

When Nicole McLaughlin misjudged a dyno and fell onto her arm at her local bouldering gym in New York City, she quite literally took her injury recovery into her own hands: she stitched together a colourful patchwork of old The North Face jacket offcuts to form a sling. This creation is exemplar of McLaughlin's approach to design work, blending functionality with fashion and sustainability in a fun and experimental way - often sourcing second-hand materials from outdoor clothing and climbing gear. Shoes made with chalkbags, skirts stitched from fleeces, bras built from bumbags - not to mention Haribo shorts and a cereal packet puffer vest. Yes, you read that right.



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In reply to UKC Articles:

Is this article 203 days early?
Or, 162 days late?

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 Sean_J 10 Sep 2020
In reply to FactorXXX:

At least it's better than an article about #vanlife

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 jaaccckk 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.

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 GrahamD 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

And there's me thinking an upcycling icon was Alberto Contador 

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 Tyler 10 Sep 2020
In reply to jaaccckk:

> Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.

It may be that the article has done her a disservice then because she herself says "It's really important to me to have functional clothing, so that's why I tend to use these items to make hyperfunctional projects" and yet not a single thing shown is useable nevermind an improvement in functionality of the item on which it is based

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In reply to UKC Articles:

I actually want one those oven glove jackets. Très chic.

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 jimtitt 10 Sep 2020
In reply to jaaccckk:

> Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.


I'm not middle age but that doesn't change anything.

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In reply to UKC Articles:

Icon?

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 Fergal 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Garbage, what every well dressed millennial will be wearing post Apocalypse.

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 galpinos 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

I must say*, I don't get how cutting up what must be multiple items that, even though second hand could well have been perfectly serviceable or repairable, and turning them into something unwearable?

That doesn't appear to upcycling, just wasteful?

*middle aged man who doesn't understand alert!

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 Mick r 10 Sep 2020
In reply to jaaccckk:

> Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.

Just have to take a look at the chair. No need to be middle aged to see it's bollocks

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 flour 10 Sep 2020
In reply to galpinos:

It's simple. The articles that have been made are designed to provoke, stimulate conversation. They are pre prototypes that will spark ideas. Not to be taken too literally.

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In reply to flour:

> It's simple. The articles that have been made are designed to provoke, stimulate conversation. They are pre prototypes that will spark ideas. Not to be taken too literally.

Like an unmade bed? Which unlike this upcycling can at least can be slept in again, when it's finished stimulating all those thought provoking ideas. 

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 Stichtplate 10 Sep 2020
In reply to summo:

> Like an unmade bed? Which unlike this upcycling can at least can be slept in again, when it's finished stimulating all those thought provoking ideas. 

I liked the idea of the unmade bed. I don't like the idea of cutting up 4 Patagonia garments, with a life time warranty, a great after sales repair service and umpteen people who'd take them off your hands, just so you can stitch together a pretty hideous skirt. Seems to be the absolute antithesis of upcycling and sustainability.

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 tehmarks 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Calm down people, there's a very simple explanation here:

At just 27, McLaughlin's custom designs have been featured in global fashion media including Vogue, High Snobiety and Hypebeast amongst others...

It's fashion: of course it's going to be impractical and rubbish.

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In reply to Stichtplate:

> I liked the idea of the unmade bed. I don't like the idea of cutting up 4 Patagonia garments, with a life time warranty, a great after sales repair service and umpteen people who'd take them off your hands, just so you can stitch together a pretty hideous skirt. Seems to be the absolute antithesis of upcycling and sustainability.

I had to read the article, I didn't believe you. They cut up Patagonia clothing!!! In days of olde folk were burnt at the stake for less. 

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In reply to UKC Articles:

I do not judge fashion, it is what it is. As a result, I am not going to give my opinion on the aesthetic value of what has been created. However, I do question it being called upcycling. Wikipedia defines upcycling as:

> Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products perceived to be of greater quality, such as artistic value or environmental value.

It could be argued that it takes "unwanted products" and turns them into products of greater "artistic quality", I cannot pass judgement on that the designer is very successful in the circles where it matters, but turning items with a lifetime guarantee into artwork is of very questionable environmental value at the very least.

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 Albert Tatlock 10 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

I really like the waffle coat, great for long alpine routes.

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 simes303 11 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

What a load of absolute crap.

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 jon 11 Sep 2020
In reply to jaaccckk:

> Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.

Middle aged? Luxury...

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In reply to Tyler:

> It may be that the article has done her a disservice then because she herself says "It's really important to me to have functional clothing, so that's why I tend to use these items to make hyperfunctional projects" and yet not a single thing shown is useable nevermind an improvement in functionality of the item on which it is based

All looks rather fun in a fancy-dress/dressing up kind of way. Are you telling me that there is no room in the world for that?

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 El Solenya 11 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

My Jaguar failed it's MOT,  so rather than fix it, I smashed it up and made a wheelbarrow , and it's a crap one at that.

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In reply to El Solenya:

> My Jaguar failed it's MOT,  so rather than fix it, I smashed it up and made a wheelbarrow , and it's a crap one at that.

But if it was going to be scrapped and someone make a decorative ornament out of it that saves making a lot of decorative ornaments from freshly mined materials and saves the energy of recycling and sells it to someone who would have otherwise bought those more 'environmentally costly' ojbects?

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 mike123 11 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

That chair looks like something Liam neeson would cable tie a swarthy looking Eastern European baddie to and say  “ you WILL tell me ....,“ 

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 Tobes 11 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Any chance of a pair of Joy Division oven gloves then? 

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In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> But if it was going to be scrapped and someone make a decorative ornament out of it that saves making a lot of decorative ornaments from freshly mined materials and saves the energy of recycling and sells it to someone who would have otherwise bought those more 'environmentally costly' ojbects?

I wonder how many of the items are genuinely at the end of their working life and couldn't be given away to someone just starting out, etc?
In fact, how many are actually brand new... 

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In reply to UKC Articles:

I find it amusing that this thread was temporarily archived while the more scathing posts were excised. I'm quite tempted to re-post my own just to see what happens.

Post edited at 21:41
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In reply to mike123:

> That chair looks like something Liam neeson would cable tie a swarthy looking Eastern European baddie to and say  “ you WILL tell me ....,“ 

Dunno. Just looks like a waste of a perfectly serviceable chair to me. And I'm sure someone would have gladly upcycled those holds to their home wall rather than see them make the chair unusable.

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> I find it amusing that this thread was temporarily archived while the more scathing posts were excised. 

Censorship by the front door...

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 Yanis Nayu 11 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Is it 1st April?

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 Red Rover 11 Sep 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

Yes they deleted my comment where I wondered if the article was an advert in disguise. I don't even think the upcycling is bad and I quite like some of it (apart from wasting servicable gear).

I think it's odd how we have had 2 articles in quick sucession which just seem to promote a particular instagram account (this one and the vanlife one). And I know UKC is looking to raise more money, understandably, so it makes me wonder. This post might get deleted as well. The deletion of negative posts makes it look more like an advert to me.

Post edited at 22:30
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In reply to Red Rover:

> Yes they deleted my comment where I wondered if the article was an advert in disguise. 

Oddly, the thread is still archived on my laptop, but reinstated in censored form on my phone🤔

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 Yanis Nayu 11 Sep 2020
In reply to jaaccckk:

Because it is. 

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In reply to Robert Durran:

> Oddly, the thread is still archived on my laptop, but reinstated in censored form on my phone🤔

CTRL + F5 might rectify that.

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In reply to jaaccckk:

> Incoming... middle aged men explaining why all this is bollocks.

Go on then, explain why it isn't bollocks.

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 SenzuBean 12 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

This person has absolutely no understanding of what the word sustainability means, and it's frankly embarrassing.
I hope they get caught outside in cold wind, wearing a jacket made of stale cereal and shiver for a few hours contemplating their life's path.

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 mike123 12 Sep 2020
In reply to SenzuBean: on a more positive note this now brings new meaning to the phrase " nice pair of Patagonia s " 

Post edited at 10:37
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In reply to mike123:

> on a more positive note this now brings new meaning to the phrase " nice pair of Patagonia s " 

Wasn't it Shakira who sang 

"Lucky that my breasts are small and humble
So you don't confuse them with mountains"

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 FreeHeelSki 12 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

“...and in the final part of the trilogy of these features, UKC interviews Derek Zoolander on how whether you’re in a lay-by on the A82 or A5, Mugatu’s “Derelicte” fashion line is his absolute first choice for living his very best #vanlife..!”

Post edited at 17:35
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 Fredt 12 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

OK all you naysayers, explain the point of climbing to a fashion designer.

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 mattyP 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Fredt:

No, because it’s all equally silly. However, half the stuff she’s cut up still looks serviceable, the rest of it looks brand new! That’s not up cycling 

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In reply to Fredt:

> OK all you naysayers, explain the point of climbing to a fashion designer.

Climbing, in the grand scheme of things, is fairly harmless, whereas the fashion industry is inherently evil.

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In reply to FactorXXX:

> CTRL + F5 might rectify that.

It did. How come?

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 gman2012 12 Sep 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

It forces the browser to request the latest version of the page rather than rely on a cached copy.

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 fotoVUE 14 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Excellent click bait and comment generator.

And actually, quite wonderful objects.

Mick

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 Andy Hardy 14 Sep 2020
In reply to Fredt:

> OK all you naysayers, explain the point of climbing to a fashion designer.


It gives them things to design, while we're off cragging (looking like I was coated in glue and shot through a jumble sale in my case)

edit: tryping

Post edited at 10:28
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 jon 14 Sep 2020
In reply to fotoVUE:.

> And actually, quite wonderful objects.

If she was a seven year old, perhaps...

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 Iain Smith 16 Sep 2020
In reply to UKC Articles:

Surely, the clue is in the name McLAUGHlin. I’m putting a bid in for the chair with holds bolted to it, and will train until I can lift myself off the floor with said holds whilst still sat on it.

Post edited at 12:20
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 Will Hunt 13:34 Thu
In reply to UKC Articles:

It's just art, isn't it? She doesn't claim it to be functional; she says something along the lines of it being "hyperfuctional. So functional that it doesn't work".

The chair didn't do much for me but I thought the hydration pack shoes were funny. It might not pass one of Grayson Perry's "Is it art?" tests: if you saw it in a skip would you wonder who threw away that art; but it did make me think. Mainly about how this is an extreme, mocking extension of what we see in some outdoor gear - functional beyond function. One example being how all climbing trousers seem to come with a tiny loop of elastic sewn onto the leg as a "toothbrush holder" which absolutely nobody in good mental health has ever ever used - yet they keep adding it and marketing it as a feature!

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 Pedro50 15:02 Thu
In reply to Mick r:

> Just have to take a look at the chair. No need to be middle aged to see it's bollocks

Tres chic or chaise trick?

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In reply to Will Hunt:

> It's just art, isn't it?

Maybe call yourself an artist then?

'Designer' is a heavily overloaded word. I'm a designer, but the things I design are electronics, and electronic/computer systems (with the odd bit of mechanical and graphic design thrown in during my spare time). The term has a wide range of other uses within the 'creative arts'.

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 Red Rover 17:22 Thu
In reply to Will Hunt:

If it's art then it shouldn't be called upcycling. She is destroying useable kit to make items that don't have much of a use. Fair enough but that's not upcycling.

Post edited at 17:23
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