Everyone’s buzzing lately about Balenciaga’s high fashion take on that blue plastic Ikea bag, but Colin Meredith takes the high/low trend a step further. For his Dollar Wears collection, the Montreal designer has created a streetwear line that’s made entirely out of materials found at his local dollar store.
The collection has everything you’d expect from an indie streetwear label: puffy sweaters, structured jackets, voluminous jogging pants, chunky sneakers. The catch is that these pieces, as trendy as they look, aren’t exactly ready-to-wear. It’s an art project, not an actual clothing line. Meredith sourced all the materials from Canadian dollar store Dollarama. Due to the flimsy nature of Dollarama’s products, the clothing isn’t as durable as it looks. “I haven’t worn any of them and I don’t plan to,” Meredith says, laughing.
Dollar Wears, which was recently displayed at a pop-up show, is a timely commentary on the disposable nature of fashion. There’s an obvious appeal to seeing shoes made out of washcloths and tape, coats constructed from tablecloths, and pants from umbrellas (our personal favorite!), but beyond this, Dollar Wears encourages the viewer to ask real questions about how value is assigned to clothing. With a nod to iconic brands like Stone Island and Our Legacy, Meredith’s work demonstrates the importance of context when it comes to pricing fashion. Dollar Wears looks expensive, but the materials used to create it cost the designer just a few hundred bucks—and are so low-quality that they’re basically disposable.
We called Meredith to find out more about how he created streetwear from dollar store finds. Photographer Elise Windsor stopped by his home studio to shoot a few brand new pieces, including a coat made from ziplock bags.
Format: Hi, Colin. How did the idea for Dollar Wears come to you?
Colin Meredith: A while back I was given a clothing pattern for Christmas, and I didn’t have the material to make it. I found some old curtains that my dad had given to me and just hacked them up and made them into it. So it stemmed from that idea.
What was the process like for sourcing the material from Dollarama?
It was crazy. It was wild. At the time, it was October last year, and I’d recently broken my ankle. So I was in crutches. I would basically just go shopping at the Dollarama and look for anything that was a textile that I could tear apart or combine to make a fabric, to make something with. So it was just tons of scouring the aisles of Dollarama. With my crutches.
Is that jacket with the Dollarama logos on it made entirely from plastic Dollarama bags? How did you put that together?
I would try to get them to just give me like, twenty, at the cash, every time I was there. They weren’t super into it. [laughs] Then I would lay all the bags out on the ground, and they were assembled together with packing tape. I would take my clothing pattern and lay it over them and cut it out. The jacket was actually assembled with staples. I probably could have tried to sew it with a fine needle, but I thought staples were a funner way to do it.
What does it feel like? Is it really crinkly?
Oh, it’s not wearable. I think I have put it on. But it’s not comfortable at all. Staples showing through the seams.
The umbrella pants look kind of comfortable.
Yeah, those ones are very delicate. Like all the materials, it’s not super wearable. They’re very shitty quality plastics. It’s not the best stuff. I think if I were to wear those they’d probably fall apart in the first couple hours.
That’s so funny, because in photos these designs look so high quality. Like the coat made from lunch bags looks like a trendy coat. I could see someone paying a lot for it.
Yeah, exactly. I wanted to play with that idea. I think the lunch box jacket is probably the most wearable, because I actually sewed it together. It’s not made with staples or anything. So it’s not terribly uncomfortable like the other ones are. Those lunch boxes, they have a lining, so it’s not going to scratch you up like the other stuff does.
But you left the tags on it.
I did. I thought that’d be funny. Like people keeping their stickers on their New Era hats.
What brands inspired this collection? Are you into a lot of streetwear brands?
Absolutely. I was looking at Stone Island a lot, that’s one of my favorite brands. Arcteryx. I’m really into Our Legacy. Even Patagonia.
Brands that make super durable, super expensive clothing.
Exactly. I thought that’d be a fun contrast.