rmit star graduate lauren trend on her new, ethically-driven denim label
photography sebastian petrovski
When we last caught up with Lauren Trend in late 2015, she was busily finishing her BA in Fashion Design at RMIT with First Class Honours. Lauren's graduate collection had all the hallmarks of a talented designer with a unique approach to her practice and received promising industry attention in the process. After showcasing her work at various fashion festivals however, Lauren was awarded the Forever New RMIT Scholarship, which she gracefully declined in order to revaluate both her work and her life.
It turns out that in the time since, Lauren has been working on a new label called Super Deep Denim which is centred around customised vintage denim and embroidered one-off pieces. It's a departure from her graduate direction but incorporates the kind of thoughtfulness and attention to detail present in her earlier work. We visited Lauren in her studio to find out more.
i-D: How's life been since you graduated last year?
Lauren: Wow, it's been a rollercoaster ride, that's for sure. It's a huge thing to leave behind a cohort and lifestyle of co-existence that's essentially been everything for the past four years. There's no wonder 2016 has held a lot of soul searching so far. It's been equal parts terrifying and terrific.
What have you been up to since we last spoke?
Lots...but at the same time, absolutely nothing. I've really tried to pump the breaks this year and force myself to chill out, which has not come easy. I've forever been someone that runs on all cylinders at full speed 24/7, and if we're being totally honest, someone that has, until now, glamourised the notion of being "oh-so-busy". I've tried to find a happy medium and place a high importance on both my physical and mental health after shoving it to the sidelines while I was studying. I've also been asking myself the big questions like: Who am I? What actually makes me happy? What do I value? How do I define success?, because I came to realise that my previous actions were merely reactions to borrowed ideals. Ha, yeah, so lots of internal conversation.
It takes guts to pause sometimes. Why do you think it's so important to be present as a creative?
It really does. I could have absolutely kept striving and achieving but I knew that I couldn't sustain it and that eventually something had to give. Right now there's a huge wave of transparency, of people being so courageously open and vulnerable by sharing their experiences - it's really fucking cool to witness. Especially seeing creatives value their person as much as their practice. There's a slowing down that's occurring, it's happening across the fashion industry with all the creative directors stepping down. The pace is crazy! I mean, at the end of the day, if we're not happy and present - what's the point?
Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for Super Deep Denim?
Of course, I hate to be cliché but it literally started with a good old fashioned, pen to paper brain storm. I had absolutely no intention of starting a "brand" but merely set myself a little exercise one afternoon to write down all the things I love to do, all the things that I define as "valuable" and things that have huge sentiment to me. And as I decided to embroider my own vintage Levi's with a little reminder to myself of all these things, I knew I was onto something. It's also hugely inspired by the notion of doing the best we can with what already exists in the world and opening up a conversation about consumption around a customised/one-off product that everyone can relate to - cause who doesn't wear denim, right? So what massively inspires me now is working on a "fashion project" that uses a garment type that's totally inclusive.
So you're working exclusively with Levi's?
Yes there are many reasons to incorporate a heritage company like Levi's: quality, product lifespan, practicality, the fact that they actually invented the blue jean, etc. However the most important thing is their transparency in supplier operations and production of goods. They were one of the first apparel companies to release the names and locations of all factories that manufacture and finish their products. And while Super Deep Denim is doing "good for the world" by repurposing vintage and pre-loved Levi's, it's still super important to know the origins of the product.
What goes into reinvigorating a vintage pair of Levi's?
Each pair is so different, which is why it's so fun! Like a fine red wine, denim only gets better with age, so the older the pair the more perfect it is in my opinion. At the moment I'm obsessed with tailoring a really old raggy pair into a more modern fit. Alternatively, distressing a pair that haven't quite lived the most exciting life yet is equally fun. Heck, even meshing the two together is great. Every pair we work with is hand picked to ensure we're offering the best quality denim because both fabrication and fit are important.
What's the main thing you've learnt while doing this?
The fact that you can have a conversation tomorrow that could lead to an inspired idea that changes the trajectory of your practice, to me that is SO exciting. There's always an opportunity to make a next move, and when we don't let the fear of failure keep us from making that next move and ultimately doing what excites us, my god - magic can happen.
Text and photography Sebastian Petrovski