No Need to Be Rich to Stitch
Montreal Designer Colin Meredith Paves His Own Path Into the Fashion Industry
Colin Meredith has taken many risks as a clothing designer, but the most notable is probably the fact that he is responsible for the deaths of three innocent teddy bears. Manner of death: decapitation.
The bears’ guts now sit inside a light blue puffy jacket in Meredith’s studio-slash-bedroom, where they serve as a cozy down filling for a garment from his latest collection “Dollarwears.”
His room is tiny but comfortable. Materials are strewn across the floor; his walls are covered with custom airbrush paintings of Nike shoes. Gucci Mane plays from his laptop, which sits next to a pile of half-built denim jackets that Meredith plans to sell.
The Dollarwears pop-up installation first appeared from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 at 4819 St. Laurent St. in the Plateau-Mont-Royal. It was organized by Gallerie, an up-and-coming skateboard lifestyle shop and gallery, which operates mainly online at galleriemtl.com.
Meredith, who works under the brand name Hobby, had a specific goal in mind for this project: to use only materials found at Dollarama. These include track pants made from umbrellas, a jacket made of clear Ziploc bags, and a zip sweater made from face towels and a hanging shoe rack.
Meredith’s concept for Dollarwears arose from pure necessity—lack of access to materials inspired him to look in more obscure places.
“I made an anorak out of Ikea curtains that my dad had been using as a paint cloth,” Meredith said. “I realized then that I didn’t have to be making clothing out of flawless textiles that you buy from a store. So I kind of played with that idea.”
Maxime Theroux, who runs Gallerie with his colleague Simon Vadlamudy, said he reached out to Meredith because he was looking for original work to showcase in various popup shops and exhibitions. He thinks big things are in the works for Meredith.
“I see him either working for whatever brand he wants, but also I see him as an influencer, someone who others look up to for inspiration,” Theroux said. “I think his brand Hobby will really pick up. Honestly, the sky’s the limit for him.”
He added that Meredith doesn’t let obstacles get in his way, especially lack of expensive or “perfect” materials.
“No matter what’s around him, he can make it happen,” Theroux said. “He doesn’t have to wait for all the circumstances to be perfect to make his work. He just says, ‘Okay, I want to make this, what do I have right now?’ He has a manner of making it beautiful and tasteful.”
A few months later, Meredith built a jacket from materials found at a construction site—what most would call garbage. The project was part of a sculpture unit of the visual art program at Dawson College, where Meredith graduated from in December 2016.
“I was trying to find whatever I could that was not normal material to make clothing out of,” he said. Meredith quickly realized, strolling down the great halls of the dollar store, that there was plenty of good stuff that could be repurposed to make garments.
The sky’s the limit for him.”— Maxime Theroux, Gallerie
His construction material design is a commentary on recycling, upcycling and thinking out of the box when it comes to how we use materials. He also wanted to address the use of sweatshops and overseas manufacturing.
With Dollarwears, Meredith had a similar vision.
“A lot of these things are one-off garments, they’re unique pieces, which I thought was a fun contrast to the shit materials they’re made out of,” he said, adding that we rarely see exclusive pieces from designers that aren’t made of pricey textiles.
Sustainable design is a rarity in the fashion industry, and can be very expensive—especially in Montreal.
Meredith doesn’t have the budget to work in a separate studio, so he works out of his bedroom. He has a sewing machine, a rack hanging from the ceiling overflows with his designs, while a towel, which he uses as an ironing board, rests underneath.
“It’s a dream to have a separate space, but at the same time I kind of love it. I get to wake up and just do this,” he said.
Being surrounded by his designs encourages Meredith to continue working.
“I fall asleep staring at this huge rack of shit.”
The skateboarding community is an important source of inspiration for Meredith. Looking at his friends’ clothing, and that of skateboarders around the world, gives him fresh ideas on what’s new and cool.
“It’s usually a pretty creative, forward-thinking group of kids, the worldwide skate community,” he said. “Skateboarders do it all for the steeze.”
Meredith also looks to people in the street for inspiration. While he has favourite clothing brands, like Arc’teryx and Our Legacy, the people around him are what inspire him most. Runway shows and mainstream fashion are not of particular interest to Meredith.“For the most part, I think it’s just regular streetwear that I think that I can have a fun spin on,” he said. “I see a jacket somewhere, and I’m like, if I did the pockets like that it’d be so much sicker.”
Meredith, who is now 22, came to Montreal at 17 years old to study fashion design at LaSalle College. After one semester, he decided to drop the program, but said the basic skills he learned in CEGEP are still the foundation for every garment he creates. Since he didn’t complete the program, Meredith has had to work through plenty of trial and error when designing, and especially constructing, his clothing.
“I don’t have set ways to do things,” he said. “I definitely just have to try shit until it works. It can be very frustrating. I’ve spent many hours ripping seams.”
Still, Meredith continues to create. When designing clothing, he builds his ideas off what he would wear himself.
“I’m very selfish,” he laughed. “I’ll see something in the street that I really like and I’ll just want it for myself.”
The process of getting an idea, creating a garment, and getting to wear it is exactly why Meredith does what he does.
“It’s exploring, and seeing what I can do,” he said. “It’s also because I love doing it.”