by Marilyn R. Wilson
Designer Melissa Ferreira often finds herself ahead of the trends. She began refurbishing vintage clothing ten years ago, long before recycling became popular. Three years ago she established the Adhesif label and there's been no turning back. Her customers are loyal - the largest part of her business is from repeat clients and custom orders - and they represent a wide range of ages and body types. What ties them all together is a passion for this one of a kind clothing. According to the designer, these unconventional garments are "accessories for your wardrobe."
It was while she was working as an industry buyer for vintage clothing that Ferreira became intrigued by the fabrics. "I was inspired by the historical content and the obscurity - the weird characteristics. I am attracted to anything out of the ordinary like unusual textures and detailing." As a visual artist, she enjoyed the creativity involved in combining the various textiles to create new designs. Each season hours are spent flipping through 1000 pound bales of garments like a deck of cards to come up with the 600 pounds of fabric needed. It can take seven to eight recycled garments to construct just one new Adhesif piece. Each one is labour intensive and is personally finished by Ferreira. "The cost of the fabric is not as high as the time is takes to produce each piece. You have to take it apart and dye it, then sew all the panels together and create the new garment. It's niche clothing." Winter fabrics include knits and wools while summer might use t-shirts, dresses and '50s bar cloth.
For Ferreira, inspiration is always led by the fabrics. This spring saw her revisit one of her early loves - denim. The limited edition Re-Rocked collection, created for the Rock Revolution fashion show in January, was an instant hit. The denim is dispersion-dyed into vibrant colours. Large mismatched button create an unconventional feel and lengths are irregular with raw hemlines. Fall inspiration came in the form of tweeds. The collection is a nod to 1950s equestrian socialites - what they would wear out to tea after a day of riding. The garments are named after pure bred horses and you will see earth tones along with black, grey and red. Panels of felted wool, lambs wool, angora and cashmere are created by patchwork and then "every pucker, pleat and gather is done by hand." Most of the dresses, jackets, skirts and shirts that make up this collection have discreet drawstrings or hidden elastic creating garments that are multi-size. Each is sewn from a unique combination of fabrics ensuring no two are exactly alike and detailing such as welt pockets and angular cuffs provide a tailored finish. Accessories include the Sorraia Scarf, the Boer Belt and hand sewn Paint Pillbox Hats. One men's garment is included in every collection. For fall 2009 it a hooded Hunter Jacket with a silk-screened tree detail on the back.
How would Ferreira describe her style? "It's definitely a fusion of fashion and art. It's playful - like letting out your inner child." I can't think of a better description for these comfortable garments that look as good on the hanger as when worn. You can find Adhesif in Vancouver at Blushing Designs, Dream, Forsya, Halfmoon, and Shop Cocoon. The Adhesif collection can also be found at Circle Craft, Portobello West and the One of a Kind Show.
For more information, on-line sales or to contact Ferreira about custom work, please visit her website at www.adhesifclothing.com.