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Join us in conversation with fashion designer and activist Matilda Marginal who explores ideas of climate change, ableism, and beauty standards through her upcycled fashion pieces. Through her deconstructed designs, Matilda aims to not only create something beautiful but celebrate the beauty within ourselves. Matilda prides herself on creating “crazy and complex” designs that come from the heart and inspire us to look inwardly at our own actions and purpose.
MARGINAL was started with only Matilda's focus and love of upcycling fashion, inspired by a class she loved whilst studying fashion and design at school. From there, the brand grew to be something more. It became deconstructed, Avant Garde, constantly changing. With a focus on social issues and climate change, Matilda aims to create something both complex and beautiful.
Who is Matilda Marginal and what is your aim in life?
I am a fashion designer, and I have a little clothing brand. I do mostly upcycling but I still do new stuff too. But upcycling is my main direction and is my favourite thing to do. And my goal is to show to people how we can live without producing more and more and polluting everything. Also, show people another fashion and another beauty. So, I want people to be more acceptable to each other and more open and be aware of what they really want and really like, not what somebody tells them what to like.
What made you gravitate towards upcycling fashion, when did your interest begin?
It was since the beginning. I took design at a design school; it was a Russian Academy. We had this class there, and the purpose of this class was to open your creativity, to make you think out of the box. To loosen you up, if you want. This class was about taking this jacket and doing something crazy with it. To not think about it, just do something crazy. It was my favourite. And since then, I can’t stop! I started already using new materials as well. For example, I have a dress from socks. Socks are something no one has worn before. I started thinking this was a great way to start my brand based on this concept. It made me change my mind about everything.
How do you believe fashion can help bring attention to the climate crisis?
You can attract attention to everything you want with fashion. It’s some sort of tool which you can use for taking people’s attention and you can show them using upcycling materials. You can show them we are in crisis now, that we need to try to be more aware of what we do, what we buy and the quality of these things. And maybe to change our minds. Still, a lot of people have this stereotype that pieces should be new and nobody was wearing it before. But if we look at that from another perspective, like a piece of art it doesn’t make any sense. Just buy beautiful thing. Enjoy it, keep it, wear it, whatever. We can show social problems with fashion. I do these fashion shows. There’s always an idea behind it. People start to think – what is she showing? What is she trying to tell? They start asking, start to discuss, or people start being of stuff.
Has the pandemic changed your creative vision or influenced your work in any way?
It didn’t change, but you know during the pandemic I created some nice pieces which I probably wouldn’t have if it didn’t happen. I had a lot of handbags in my place because we stopped using our bags to go to the shop and they didn’t accept our handbags. We had to buy these little handbags which were awful quality, you can’t use them twice, they were very fragile. It was so much in my place, I realised it was such a shame. I knew I had to make a dress, and it became very beautiful. Also, I have a dress from gloves. When the pandemic started, we were panicking, and we ran to the stores an bought a lot of gloves, and masks – you must remember that. And we never used them. Never. But we bought so much (…) We bought so many latex gloves, and so I made a dress from gloves.
What do you hope for the future of the Marginal brand?
I want to grow. I want to grow my business. Now I am based in Denver, I want to expand. Maybe to make a shop in New York, also I would love to make a shop in Moscow. I don’t know how it would work I have to figure that out based on the situation now. But it is my family there. I look at that direction always. I miss that place. I just want people to be happy. I also want to forget about financial stuff. Let’s be honest. I just want to make more beautiful stuff. And maybe more and more.
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