Nguyen Inc Is Making Runway Fashion Statements From Upcycled Tees

Nguyen Inc Is Making Runway Fashion Statements From Upcycled Tees

by Alexandra Hildreth

The designer Kim Nguyen is no stranger to the downtown creative scene, a scene that — along with a strong sense of community — led to the birth of her brand Nguyen Inc.

Having previously worked at major designers such as Marc Jacobs and Supreme, Nguyen set out during the pandemic to branch out from her traditional design past and started making upcycled t-shirts which became an instant hit. This week, on a shut-down portion of Lafayette Street in Little Italy, her label made its NYFW debut.

On the open air runway, friends, family, and the models walking couldn’t contain their excitement, smiling and cheering for the success of Nguyen’s project. “It was total rockstar energy, you know?” Nguyen tells PAPER.

Photography: Matthew Yoscary

She cast traditional, straight size-models, in addition to those pulled from her own creative family to bring the designs to life. The show was opened by supermodel Paloma Elsesser and included other creative icons like Richie Shazaam, Eri Wakiyama, and Imani Randolph.

“It’s not your classic runway show and I didn’t want to do that even though it was an option,” she adds. Nguyen said her inspiration for the show was inspired by X-Girls’ first guerilla-style runway show which was produced by Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze in Soho back in the ‘90s. “Even with my background, a traditional runway show was not what I wanted to do. I wanted something similar to X-Girls, where a lot of friends were involved.”

The collection, which was made entirely from upcycled materials, demonstrated the creative path in which Nguyen wishes to expand. There were hoodies, miniskirts, party dresses, crochet chest-guards, and even a sleek, black evening gown. She based this lineup off of what started the brand in the first place: a t-shirt. "I really wanted to see how far I could take the many tees we sourced from Goodwill, reworking them into all types of silhouettes," she says.

Photography: Matthew Yoscary

“I’m hoping to move into other avenues and actually do both wholesale and one-of-one’s not for actual production,” she adds. Much like larger luxury runways, certain pieces go into mass production while more artisanal pieces are made simply for the design and craft.

“For example, the t-shirt, long skirt, something that takes hours and hours and I wanted that — I have range,” she says. As Nguyen looks towards the future, she is excited to continue experimenting with her textiles and expanding her brand’s offerings. “I’m excited for the crochet skirts made entirely out of upcycled t-shirt yarn.”

Top photo by Nick Sethi

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