Catching Up With Felicia Zivkovic of Reissued
By Kate Ferguson
I personally have a habit of cutting up my own clothes, so when I came across what Felicia Zivkovic was doing with Reissued, I was totally into it. In this case, she’s taking a professional eye and going beyond the cut up to fully re-designing pieces of clothing. I spoke with the business owner about her motivations behind the concept and what sort of things she’s made for her customers so far.
So tell me a bit about where the inspiration for this came from, were you working in fashion? Did this evolve out of a personal need?
I've always been in love with fashion, since I was about 12 years old. My mother worked in the industry and definitely pushed me and helped me develop my interest at a very early age. I grew up taking influence from my favorite designers, films, actors, models, and "it" girls of the time, and I always experimented with style and making things. I continued my formal education at Parsons, and I've been very lucky to have a great career as a designer for the past 16 years. Most of my career has been at Lela Rose, which I am currently Design director. Since I started with Lela so young, I kind of grew up there in terms of my fashion experience. I was a big part of the constant growth and was able to be hands on from the beginning, helping grow a small business to what is now. I have always made my own patterns and have gained technical expertise in addition to a keen designer eye.
The inspiration for reissued style came from the fact that I was always reworking my old clothes and people took notice. I've been collecting some gorgeous Lela Rose pieces and other designer and vintage pieces over the years and I always felt it was shame to discard them when they became dated, so I updated them. In addition, I've experienced first hand the waste that people overlook when it comes to the fashion industry. It is actually the second dirtiest industry on the planet next to big oil. It's a statistic that most people don't know, so I was inspired to use Reissued style as a way to build awareness.
Was the ethical aspect an initial motivation? Tell me a bit more about your thoughts on ethical and sustainable fashion.
The ethical aspect was a part of the initial motivation, but I wasn't aware of all the other fashion bloggers, stylists, and designer that are emerging as sustainable until I started posting. It was a huge bonus when I realized that the community is growing and had so much potential, it felt like I was actually at the forefront of something big. People are starting to think outside the box. I always try to encourage people to buy better quality, avoid fast fashion, and of course reissued their pieces to give it a second life when they become dated. This of course is only one way to be more ethical, but I'm thrilled to be part of the conversation.
With Reissued style I can be totally free to use any trim, button, fabric scrap, etc, because I don't have to think about ordering bulk, costing, or building a cohesive collection. The idea of being "Couture" for everyone really excites me too. Because of the skills I have acquired over the years I am able to provide a very unique service at an accessible price. I am also totally inspired that I can find something unique, like trim from a designer atelier that would otherwise be garbage, to bring an older garment back to life.
Who's your average client?
My client base really runs the gamut. The average age is probably between 25-45 but I get all kinds of women from all over the country. I think it will take time for people to trust this process, and it is definitely better suited for people who already own a few better-made pieces. No one should really bother spending money upgrading something they bought cheap. Cheap means it is usually not worth saving, but I have reworked a piece that was special to the client because her mother gave it to her and she wanted to be able to wear it again. I have also had clients who seemed to be fascinated with what I do, and just want to try it so they send me whatever they have. The experience of working with a designer one on one, the ethical aspect, the before and after transformation, and having something one of a kind, have all been factors that draw people in.
Are these mostly items that people have had for a while? Recent but vintage purchases?
I have reworked vintage finds, sentimental favorites, never worn items that weren't quite right and just collect dust, and pre-loved pieces that can be saved. Lots of people hold onto the things for one reason or another. I personally have things in my closet I never wear but can't bare to part with. I still have the first expensive designer dress I ever bought, my mothers ill-fitting yet very cool dress from the 70's, I have vintage pieces that are amazing but need tweaking, and I have pieces from work that are in the most gorgeous fabric but the style is dated... I think we all have some of this in our closets, and I am here to make them all wearable so you don't need to throw them away or go shopping.
What's the most extreme rework you've done?
The most extreme rework I have ever done was when I took a tweed Tory Birch dress and turned it into a Chanel esc shrunken jacket. The dress was too short and bulky and the client never really wore it but a few times. I made it into a classic jacket that she can throw over jeans or slacks and feel chic for years to come.
Tell me a bit about the process and how you determine what the new design should be.
The process if fun and interactive. The client will first go to the website and purchase a deposit to get started. They will fill out a questionnaire so I can design specifically for their style and their needs. Once they send the piece, I will make a sketch package for them. All my sketches are hand drawn and very detailed, and they are each labeled with a level. The level represents a price, which is listed on our site. When the client chooses, she will then check out with the appropriate level and I will get started right away. Within 30 days they will get their clothes back looking totally transformed!
How big is your current operation? What’s next?
Currently the operation is very small, in fact it’s just me and a few seamstresses I employ part time. Reissued is something I love to do, and fulfills me in many ways. It gives me something of my own outside of work, and provides me a way to monetize off my hobby and my passion to keep our world a little cleaner. I truly believe in this service and in the future of ethical fashion so I will continue doing it, and hope for it to become a larger scale operation one day!