TRAIDremade designer Paula Kirkwood, recent star of BBC2´s Twiggy´s Fashion Exchange, has been giving creative sewing workshops all over the UK. Clare Saxon met with Paula to chat muses, vintage materials and restyling thrift finds.

TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) have been putting on creative sewing workshops around the country to encourage young people to ‘get enthusiastic about debris, and be inspired to update vintage and old clothing from the back of their wardrobes’, the head of TRAIDremade, designer Paula Kirkwood explains to me from beside her sewing machine.

Today she is giving advice in a workshop in Covent Garden’s Shop of Delight pop-up store, where the cutting edge restyled vintage clothing is being sold for the week. Paula has also appeared on BBC2’s Twiggy’s Fashion Exchange, so I know I am face to face with a true design guru.


Recycling vintage comes naturally to Paula, who was brought up with her mum and Nan’s inherent passion for a

ltering clothes and restyling past fashions, meaning everything she wears is recycled vintage, ‘apart from my shoes and underwear!’ Paula has been working between Brighton and London for TRAID, for the past seven years.

While studying textiles at college, she started off working at their Brighton store, where she ‘began to knot and play with the torn materials which couldn’t be sold a

nd started to create interesting pieces’. It is this natural curious fervour for reworking vintage fashion that really shows through in the eye-catching designs of TRAIDremade’s stock

Along the walls of the trendy pop-up store are gorgeous and glam garments made from unwanted vintage materials, such as a mini pinafore dress cut from a man’s navy suit jacket. This idea is simple but so stunning that it makes me jealously wonder what inspires Paula to come up with such flattering and unique ideas.

When I ask what motivates her work, she replies instantly with a big smile. ‘Everything. From materials that we cannot sell, like a crazy print, an 80s leather bolero or an old cloth which we then screen print original prints into. I liked to trend the high street into the old fabrics, adapting the essence of trend pockets in youth culture that we pick up from the streets of Brighton and London.’

On the celebrity scene, Roisin Murphy is Paula’s style muse, as her fashion sense is ‘beautiful, quirky, kooky and crazy yet classic too. She is not afraid to wear new designers and although the outfits are sometimes outrageous she always looks great’. From Roisin Murphy style party dresses to retro print casual tops fit for the catwalk, using a mixture of vintage, street and designer trends, Paula creates pieces which you will be able to wear for years, thanks to the high quality and care that goes into her work.

What really sets TRAIDremade apart from other vintage recycling boutiques though, is that the clothing is everyday wear that is also set at affordable everyday prices. They have two ranges, the standard of which a t-shirt will be £19.50, up to £40 for a restyled dress. £40 is an absolute bargain compared to a Topshop dress of the same price and trend, because TRAID’s pieces are completely individual and are also designed to last a lot longer than just the current season. As Paula points out, ‘we don’t charge the earth for what we do, every piece is different and handmade and nobody in the recycling vintage fashion world does their own print designs.´


With such a beautiful range of innovative designs and restyled vintage fashion classics, we wouldn’t put it past Paula. Buy your own restyled vintage at TRAIDremade, or be inspired by the way Paula reworks thrift store finds and get your sewing machines out!

The latest TRAID vintage store will open in Camden soon. Traid.org.uk is re-launching but for now you can check out their shops in Brighton, Brixton, Shepherds Bush and Westbourne Grove.

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