Lina Mayorga is the young professional designer who won the 7th edition of Isko I-Skool Media Mention Award (also read here). She is a sustainable vegan fashion designer who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and now is based in New York City. She graduated from Parsons The New School of Design and has worked for her own brand since 2018, while collaborating with other brands including Calvin Klein, Victoria's Secret and Prabal Gurung.
Her own brand, Lina Mayorga, offers clothes made with organic, recycling or up-cycled materials and designed with zero-waste techniques, and doesn’t include leather, fur, or silk. Lina Mayorga’s work is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and she wants to break the stereotypes of sustainable clothing.
Can you describe the inspiration for the outfit that made you win the Best Overall Media Mention Award?
The main idea for my outfit comes from the name of my collection called "Cross Paths." Cross Paths is not about differentiating the North, the South, the West, or the East. Cross Paths is about unity, about that middle ground on our only planet where and when we accept the variety of options, the versatility of styles, the acceptance of opinions and always having in mind that we are all connected as one whole. It was essential to find a look that could represent that concept and give the customer the ability to adapt the look to the needs of each moment. I did it by allowing modification of each garment depending on the outfit that people want to achieve and, most importantly, giving the freedom to express themselves with the different options that my garments could offer.
My collection "Cross Paths" shows different styles as a whole, exhibits how we have been brought together by crossing paths, immigration, traveling, and how different styles and cultures are immersed in different places all at once. Crossing paths help us grow by learning from each other's preferences, respecting them, and allowing freedom in decision-making. Diversity, versatility and sustainability were the core aspects of my pieces for this Isko I-Skool project.
Why did you choose to focus on versatility for this project?
I think that being open to versatility goes hand in hand with acceptance and sharing one’s world. Versatility is about having the ability to adapt to each moment's needs and finding how we can modify several garments depending on the look we want to achieve. Each of us has particular preferences, but we want to feel good in our bodies with our ideal look. That's why I offered sustainable options to the always-changing trends with pieces that can be transformed into other garments and can be easily constructed or deconstructed easier for recycling purposes.
What makes your outfit versatile and in how many ways can you wear it?
My main look has four clothing pieces that actually can be counted as six pieces: a two-tone jacket, a completely zero waste shirt, a dungaree or overall which includes two pieces–the top/vest transformable part and the versatile jeans. I also made a facemask that is very handy for the global situation and perfectly complements the jacket's look. My pair of straight leg jeans feature a bottom denim strap-zipper system that allows the user to transform the jeans into a skinny jean style more on the slim side or wear them without adjusting the straps for a loose retro look. The dungaree/overall top is another piece that can be transformed into something else. It features zippers on the sides to change the garment into a vest. And also, the jacket is pretty versatile for dark color outfits as well as light blue looks.
Does sustainability play a big role in your work? And is this denim outfit sustainable?
I always design thinking about how my looks can be sustainable, and I have also been analyzing more how the lifecycle of each garment would be developed. In addition to that, I was very intrigued by Isko’s R-Two technology as it saves and reuses cotton fibers that would usually be discarded in the making of the denim fabric. Instead they process them into a new piece of textile. So I decided to use the type of denim that contained reused cotton, and tried to stick to one kind of textile per garment, thinking that this would make recycling more manageable in the future.
For all the garments, I included unique details that, to my knowledge, reduce textile and product waste like square pattern-making, adding bartacks instead of rivets to eliminate more wasteful products and reinforcing areas that can suffer stress. I even incorporated a QR code image onto my jeans especially created to be seen as decorative, but informative which also can be scanned by any smart device for more information about the production of the jeans, the materials, the special treatments and the garment care of these jeans and who made your clothes. Another sustainable aspect of my outfit is that if I decide to manufacture my dungaree top which is shaped like the back of a pair of jeans, it could potentially be produced with upcycled jeans because of its design.
Also, my outfit has a completely zero-waste shirt, which features a two-tone style achieved by the same fabric showing the front and back, representing the integration of opposites related to my main inspiration. I created my own zero-waste pattern to make the perfect shirt, and I am thrilled that I explored this path because I used all the fabric piece entirely to make a shirt. It is beautiful and the design is unique and wearable with peculiar details like the collar and pockets.
I think we are slowly dropping all the labels in our society, and it is up to the consumers if they want to wear what we called "womenswear" or "menswear." The fashion industry is recognizing that by not saying “this is for women, or this is for men” it opens up the possibilities and options for customers and allows more people to be attracted by the brands.
We know that our bodies are shaped differently, and the sizing is pretty complex for every brand, but I do believe that unisex clothing is becoming more important, and we have to adapt to this. Eventually, the mass market has to catch up too. Even when all of our life, we were taught that women wear womenswear and men menswear, but it is more than that, and customers are speaking about it, and we need to hear them.
I think the appealing aspect of wearing denim is probably the fact that it has been worn by all "genders" for so long. It is intriguing analyzing how jeans got to that point and apply it to every single garment.
I explored designing modular garments and in the search for an intermediate profile between feminine-masculine alternatives, I decided to go for more of a unisex look that plays with proportions and allows garments to be worn by different users and their preferable taste. My clothes can be worn by anyone, no matter who you are or where you come from because if you like it, you can wear it. It’s as simple as that.
Did you work with denim before? What makes this fabric interesting in your eyes?
Since I was studying at Parsons, I found myself inspired by the denim fabric. For my clothes and my brand, I look to showcase a style that is elegant but cool and modern; I like doing this by using textiles that are not typically selected for specific garments. For instance, I designed a red carpet gown made of upcycled denim fabric, and I have also experimented with natural dyes, so I have used indigo dye and fabrics like hemp to emulate the typical cotton denim fabric. For my "Inform To Survive" collection that I made for the sustainable design award Redress I upcycled denim to create some of my looks that aimed to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I have also been continuously collecting denim fabric and denim garments for future collections and projects.
I'm impressed by how this fabric has to be in our lives, how it became the default textile/piece, and how it is globally known. Denim evolves with time, molds to people's bodies, and I think it looks good with everything in our wardrobe. It is also well received when the look is worn, which allows the upcycling easier.
You are a young designer and own your own brand. Explain us more about it.
I officially started my brand in March 2018. I wanted to make my own clothes and aligned them with my principles and lifestyle. Now I work 24/7 and do everything by myself. So I'm looking to start collaborating with like-minded people creating alliances that allow the evolution of my brand and the spread of sustainable clothing in the industry. I want to keep growing my business this year and hopefully start hiring people. And when this happens, I will do my best to have ethical practices and create more beautiful garments.
I always describe my clothing as sustainable and vegan, and able to communicate social issues. I use upcycled textiles, implement zero-waste pattern techniques and explore organic materials. I mainly design womenswear, but last year I started doing menswear looks, and now I design for whoever wants to wear my clothes. My vision is to lead the fashion industry to a sustainable future that inspires, creates and innovates while treating people and nature fairly.
Editor's note: Leonie Christians is a journalist who works for TextilWirtschaft, sister publication of SPORSTWEAR INTERNATIONAL, also part of DFV Group. This article was originally published on July 27 on www.textilwirstschaft.de