Yung Creatives is a series profiling talents of tomorrow across various fields, disciplines and mediums. Skilled in commerce and creativity, find out why these guys are generating significant buzz in the industry. Sara Gourlay, Creative Director of Frankie Collective, is changing the game when it comes to vintage streetwear for women, and your favorite celebrities agree. The Vancouver native fell in love with thrifting at a young age, growing an impressive collection of '90s sportswear from brands like Umbro, FILA, adidas, and more. Obsessed with having pieces that no else did, Gourlay began using these finds as canvases for reworking and creating modern, one-of-a-kind women’s pieces. As her passion for vintage streetwear grew, so did her collection and her desire to turn this hobby into something more. Gourlay began working at a vintage pop-up market, selling her own finds and reworks before eventually meeting the owners of F as in Frank, a vintage line selling mostly men’s clothing. Together, they came up with the idea for Frankie Collective, a vintage streetwear brand designed by women, for women. The truth is, men are dominating streetwear culture, and women might think there’s not a place for them in that world. But with original pieces that incorporate both streetwear and women’s styles, such as a Champion bodysuit or a Kappa skirt set, Gourlay is helping bridge the gap between women and streetwear. Now, Gourlay works as Creative Director of the brand, helping source vintage materials and design reworks, all while getting them in the hands of celebrities like Rihanna, SZA, and Gigi Hadid. We caught up with Gourlay to chat about her rework process, the right way to wear vintage, and what it’s like helping create a space for women in streetwear.
When did you first develop a passion for vintage clothing? I remember being a tween and spending hours in vintage stores trying on ridiculous outfits. There was something about having a bomb piece no one else had, or could have. I started developing my personal style, and vintage clothes played a big role as I began to experiment with my wardrobe. Hitting the thrift became me and my BFF's favourite weekend pastime.
How did that passion eventually become Frankie Collective? I worked for a vintage pop-up market and eventually began to sell the collection I had accumulated over the years of my vintage and reworks. During my Business degree, I used my marketing classes to further refine the concept and launched a sustainable fashion line. The collection was designed from vintage deadstock fabric or material intercepted from the landfill. I was later introduced to Drew and Jesse Heifetz who run F as in Frank. They were primarily selling men’s vintage so we came together and launched Frankie.
What was the first piece of vintage you owned? I remember raiding my mom's closet for Doc Martin boots and Calvin Klein overalls from the 90s, but one of my first finds was a vintage Dior backpack. Unlike most vintage companies, you take vintage pieces and rework them into modern styles — how did this idea come about? I started reworking vintage to create one of a kind pieces in my own wardrobe, but now I design for the Frankie gal in mind. Another aspect to reworking is utilizing a garment to keep clothing out of the landfill. For example a pair of XXL men’s track pants with holes in the knees can be turned into a women’s high-waisted skirt.
What part of the process do you enjoy most — finding vintage pieces, reworking them, styling them? Each one of those things can be really exciting in moments of inspiration. Styling is interesting because vintage can be worn so wrong. The goal is to avoid a second-hand mash up look. I like creating context and weaving cohesion between pieces and items that are out of place without my help. But my first love is re-working. I like taking something from times past, and viewing it with a 2017 filter on it. What are some of your favorite brands? (Past and current) I wore Umbro and Juicy as a kid, so I’m loving wearing those brands right now. Hyein Seo and Misbhv are favourites as well.
What are some of your proudest moments in terms of Frankie Collective’s success? Working with Tommy Hilfiger to present vintage at his past two New York Fashion Week shows was pretty incredible. He’s been a huge supporter of what we’re doing, which is super refreshing, since some other fashion companies are likely to send a cease and desist than to give a massive opportunity to flex our reworked vintage. I also remember screaming when Gigi, Kylie, Rihanna and SZA were repping our reworks. You sell mostly women’s clothes from brands like Champion, Adidas, Umbro, and more (streetwear brands we usually see men in). How does it feel leading a company in the female streetwear community when it’s still very much predominately male? It’s super empowering to help women express themselves through their style. Women have such an appetite for streetwear, especially right now where we’re in the midst of taking control of our identities as females as a whole. Girls might feel intimidated to shop at men’s stores so we’re making streetwear more accessible to women in that sense, too.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future? We’re dropping some next level rework styles very soon. You’ll see more designer and custom pieces as well. Stay tuned for some pop ups and special collabs. For more Yung Creatives, check out Hannah Sider, the photographer putting your favorite brands and artists in front of her lens.