SC103 is the new cult label blurring the lines between practical and absurd

Designers Sophie Andes-Gascon and Claire McKinney dressed longtime collaborator Maryam Nassir Zadeh in their pieces at their NYFW debut.

by Sara Radin; photos by Andres Altamirano
19 November 2019, 8:23pm

New York-based creatives Sophie Andes-Gascon and Claire McKinney have worked and lived together for over five years. Creating one off pieces for designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and working for different brands since they graduated from Pratt, it was the creative nature of their living space and their collaborative relationship that inspired them to launch their own label. SC103 debuted in September during New York Fashion Week, with a collection all about the workshop nature of their living space, and the abundance of ideas that have been shared there.

Expanding off of pieces in their individual archives, using fabrics and ideas they had been collecting for years from their travels and such, the duo decided to take the plunge after being given an opportunity to show their work at 80WSE gallery in New York (the show is up until November 25). Using found materials, unconventional textile treatments including collaged leather, real floral lamination, and marbling, as well hand-embellishments like patchwork lace, their distinct pieces blur the lines between the practical and the absurd. Shown in windows alongside pieces of furniture from their home, the collection marks the duo’s first official, long-term project together. And now, after a recent fire in their home, it also preserves the special bond and experience they shared in their apartment as they begin to look for a new living space together.

i-D spoke with the two designers about their lasting friendship, the specialness of creative soulmates, and how their first collection came together.

How did you two originally meet and start living together?
Sophie: Claire's from originally from Portland. I grew up outside of Washington DC, via Brazil. We both went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and met sophomore year of school. After that we lived with each other and upon graduating we started collaborating and working together for other brands like Maryam Nassir Zadeh. During school, we were very focused on our individual work and finding ourselves in that.

Claire: But after school is when we realized how important collaboration is. We still we currently live together but our apartment had a crazy fire last weekend, so we've been displaced. And that's been the apartment that we've lived together since being at Pratt six years ago. It was our living space, home studio, everything. It really felt like a workshop.

A model walks in the SC103 fashion show

Can you tell me more about your collaborative relationship and how you’ve been able to make use of your different passions and strengths?
C: We both definitely have similarities in the way we approach problems and processes when it comes to making things. We're both drawn towards working with experimental textiles and really putting our own stamp onto all the materials we work with in different ways. I tend to work more in the heavier weight category. I've always been really interested in working with denim and structure. Sophie has more of a painterly approach to making pieces.

S: Claire has always been really interested in tailoring and shapes and forms and I'm always really interested in color and surface treatment and things like that. So it’s been really nice for us to both do our own experimenting in these areas.

We love working at the same time in the same space, so a lot of ideas we can bounce off each other as we were making. It’s very much a shared experience, just in terms of hours in the studio together. And that's sort of how I think we're able to find time for a lot of things. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses.

How did your experience working for other brands help you launch your own label?
C: The first projects that Sophie and I worked on together I think was for Maryam Nassir Zadeh and we were approached to help her come up with a way to incorporate reworked denim into her collection. Now, we also help her make one of a kind editorial pieces.

S: We wanted to branch out and do our own thing but felt like we were always too busy or too overwhelmed. But we were approached to do a show at this amazing gallery and we just couldn't let that opportunity go.

So we both have full time jobs working for different brands and we work on our own private, separate projects as well and then now have formed this label together. So it's been very interesting to see our relationship hasn't changed at all since we've started the brand. A lot of people were like, how is this going to affect your relationship? And it hasn't, we have a really great, solid foundation I would say. And now going through this apartment fire is even more telling.

A model walks in the SC103 fashion show

How did your first collection come together? Where did you source your materials from?
S: One of the first steps we did was look at each other and all kinds of work and ideas that we maybe hadn't fully explored just from years of making things for ourselves. So it was a lot of looking back at our own archives, looking back at stuff we'd done for other people and then finding what it was that we wanted to do. So there were a lot of techniques that we explored for example; tiny leather chains, pressed flowers and vinyl, and a lot of marble dyeing.

C: Both of us have built our work from day one at Pratt sourcing to some degree from the garment district. We have our favorite spot. Then we are often given a lot of materials and typically source things while traveling, so that always adds another layer and personality to things.

Tell me more about how your fashion show and the installation.
C: Everyone who came to the show and participated in it in some way is like a big family to us. We never expected the turnout that we had, which was pretty big. But I think that was because there were people following our work all of these years, knowing that we were doing these underground things and eventually wanted to do our own thing. There were a lot of spectators, a lot of friends who really pushed us and inspired us to do this.

S: The whole collection is on display now in these windows along with some of our favorite items and pieces of furniture from the house. So it's very strange that now we’ve had this fire because I even remember being in the apartment and once we had moved all of these important things out into the windows, the place felt unfamiliar or odd without all these special things in it. The show was such a propelling moment for us, seeing how our little community responded to this show. And even though we’ve gone through this fire, we just feel really confident. We're happy to have such an optimistic and hopeful point of view about it.

A model walks in the SC103 fashion show

What do you think is next for you now that you’ve lost your collaborative space?
S: I think we just have to take this as a guiding step towards something different. We’ll see what the next collection brings and how we're going continue to involve other people and grow this thing that we've started. I think that's what's exciting to us. And yeah, apartments will come and go. Luckily our relationship and work will remain.

We feel so lucky to have found each other. There's a creative soulmate thing that Claire and I realized we have. We thought everyone had friendships or collaborators like this. But it’s not always easy to find a perfect partner and someone that you work with really well. So we feel really lucky to have that. It's a good solid foundation. We've had a couple of setbacks now, we’re excited to move forward and have more shows and opportunities to grow the brand and the ideas that we're trying to hold the light to.

In terms of the collection, we're looking at making a few small orders, and the pieces we decide to sell will be really specific to the collection and limited and we’ll decide on each case by case basis.

A model walks in the SC103 fashion show
A model walks in the SC103 fashion show
A model walks in the SC103 fashion show
A model walks in the SC103 fashion show
New York Fashion Week
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