Her approach is based in her long history of thrifting, but also in Seattle’s vibrant sustainable-clothing scene. Brands like Girlfriend Collective and Prairie Underground, vintage stores like Indian Summer and Bon Voyage, and designers like Janelle Abbott are among the locals mindfully pushing the dial forward on what sustainable clothing can look like.
In mcLean’s case, that look might be anything from a bucket hat made from a Burberry scarf to patchworked hoodies to hand-dyed denim shorts.
“Seattle is going to be a big place for sustainable fashion,” mcLean declares. Despite our city getting forever blasted for being a paragon of anti-fashion, she believes our penchant for eco-conscious fashion is what makes us unique. “We don’t even second-guess being sustainable, it’s just the way we are,” she says.
Similarly, mcLean’s “bootleg” series brings DIY flair to discarded high-fashion items. She started bootlegging in high school when she flipped a thrifted Juicy Couture keychain into a necklace. Now, mcLean reworks luxury dust bags and metal label emblems from houses like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada and Gucci into necklaces, underwear, bikinis and earrings.
It’s a practice distinct from duping or knocking off a luxury brand — one closer to “fan art,” mcLean says. Drawing from the long tradition of streetwear-turned-luxury designer fashion/dapper-dan-harlem-gucci.html”>Dapper Dan (“My biggest bootleg idol,” says this dan), whose unsanctioned flips of Gucci and Louis Vuitton prints launched him to fame, mcLean sees her remixed items as a tip of the hat to luxury brands.
“It’s not ripping off somebody’s design, but more like, I respect you and I see you and I see that you do these cool things and I wanna be like you but I don’t wanna be you,” explains mcLean. (Her website includes a lengthy disclaimer stating all her designs are “repurposed, re-worked, or pre-owned.”)
“I have friends that have hit me up from Louis Vuitton, [saying], ‘Hey, just so you know, our big boss came in last week and they want one of your necklaces.’” The big brands understand “I’m not their competition,” she says.
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