It was a year ago that Natalya Amres started remixing sportswear. The first item she deconstructed was a pair of old pink PUMA pants, which she turned into a two-piece set that she posted on Instagram. It sold out immediately. She repeated the same steps with several more pairs of track pants and her business quickly took off. Since then, she’s already done collaborations with Nike, Kappa and Jordan Brand while her designs have also been worn by Migos, though she’s still relatively unknown.
Her creative process is very intuitive and hands-on. Laying a raw piece on the floor, she spends time studying the item, trying it on, turning it inside out, and so on until an idea comes to her. Reworking items requires a lot of care, and she spends most of her time contemplating the design and planning the cutting process before actually taking a scissor to the item. The result is a series of items she calls Remixed by Tal, in which she turns Jordan windbreakers into dresses, adidas duffel bags into harnesses, tees into bras, and tracksuits into trendy two-piece sets.
Highsnobiety spoke with Amres about her creative process, her favorite brand collaborations, and where she hopes to take this practice in the future.
Will you tell me more about you and your background. When did you start sewing?
Initially I went to school at Seneca College in Ontario for fashion business. I was planning on becoming a buyer and working in corporate so I worked a ton of retail jobs. Randomly in the midst of all that I learned how to sew. It was just out of pure curiosity. I taught myself through YouTube and at first I was just doing it for fun. I’ve now been sewing for about seven years. But last year my work started gaining a lot of traction. It just came out of pure randomness.
What did fashion mean to you when you were younger?
I didn’t really get into fashion until I moved to downtown Toronto a few years ago. I started going out more and found myself really inspired by the streetwear being worn there.
What’s the style like in Toronto?
People take more risks here and there’s a lot more diversity, which is really different than its surrounding areas. Toronto is really imaginative. People are very creative with what they wear. You see so many different personalities shine through in the way people dress.
When did you first become interested in reconstructing sportswear?
I started out doing a lot of vintage stuff because I was thrifting a lot. At the time I had some pink PUMA track pants and I was trying to get rid of them and I was like, “you know what, let me just add a little spin to these and maybe they’ll sell for more or sell faster.”
You know how everyone wants matching outfits today? The piece was a little big at the time so I just cut off that excess fabric and made a top out of it. I was kind of imagining it for an event or a festival. Then, I posted the process online, put my phone down to shower and came back to see they had sold out right away. At the time, I had been taking a break from Instagram, so that was pretty cool and I was really proud of myself. Then, I just kept repeating that process and the items continued to sell out.
Can you tell me more about the process of actually reconstructing an item?
I don’t really normally do things the traditional way when it comes to the cut-and-sew process. Since they are reworked items I have to be really careful with every inch of fabric that I use because I could easily mess up. I don’t normally do the whole thing where I’m like sketching out an idea and stuff.
I’ll put the piece down on the floor and stare at it for awhile until I figure out what I want to do to it. And then once I have it in my head, only then will I start to actually make incisions in the actual garment. I cut it in a way where I’m saving every last bit of every important piece in the garment as well. So I’ll be careful not to cut through like tags or the logo.Then, once I’ve taken apart everything I will start to reassemble it in different ways. I won’t do anything until I pin things. Most of the time it comes out of a thought process prior to actually sewing anything.
What do you think informs your thought process?
Each piece kind of has its own predetermined fate in a sense. For example, if I have three different pieces and they have three different shapes, and three different types of material, all those aspects lead into creating a completely different design. There’s no finalization beforehand. Usually I’ll just see it and create something based on all the different aspects of that specific piece. I try to use the entire piece of the garment but it is hard to do. I have four giant bags of small scraps leftover that I’d like to donate somewhere.
What specific projects and collaborations have you worked on so far?
For a couple months I was selling one remix every day and they were going like crazy. Then, I made a custom piece for a local Toronto artist who had me remix some for her. She had a show in Toronto and other brands saw it including Jordan Brand, who then approached me.
I remember that day so clearly. It was last summer and I was sitting in the library, working on my logo and then I got that email from Jordan Brand asking me to collab. I was freaking out. Then, I got introduced to someone at Kappa, who commissioned me to create custom pieces for Migos.
What projects have you done that you have been most excited or proud of?
I’m so proud of every project that I’ve worked over the past year but the Migos one was definitely one of my proudest. And then my recent trip with Nike, as well.
How did it feel to see Migos wearing your designs?
At the time I was working a serving job in Toronto and was going back and forth with their stylist about whether they were going to wear my designs or not. In my head at the time I was like, there’s a high chance they’re not going to love these outfits. People send them stuff all the time and this is just a chance.
When the date that they were supposed to wear the outfits came around, I was waiting for them to come on stage and when I didn’t see them wearing it, I was like, “oh my God, they didn’t like the design.” But it just so happens that they just needed different sizes. So I had to remake their items over and over again. The process leading up to them actually wearing the piece for the first time on stage was so nerve wracking but I never expected anything like this to happen in my lifetime. I’m big fans of them and they’re so iconic, I can’t believe they wore something that I made.
Where do you want to take this next? What are you working on right now?
Currently I’m working on a couple new collaborations. One is with a soccer brand, which is coming up in the summer. And then in April I’m working on a collab with a pretty big brand that I’m quite happy about. I just can’t disclose it yet. I’d also like to find the time to strengthen my own personal brand and take it in new directions.