More Than the Material Girl: Natalya Amres Talks Upcycling in adidas’ New RYV Drip

The Toronto-based upcycling designer and founder of RemixedbyTal stars in our latest lookbook talks about how to find a style that stays true to you.

Natalya Amres poses in adidas new RYV collection
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Natalya Amres poses in adidas new RYV collection

Is it any wonder that adidas looked to Natalya Amres to rep their latest Reveal Your Voice campaign? With her company RemixedbyTal, the Torontonian has been taking the next frontier of fashion into her bare hands, prying intricately structured outfits and accessories from the grips of the most unpliable materials like some kind of alchemist.

Natalya is more of an inventor than she is a fashion designer. Don’t get us wrong—she is a fashion designer, and her fabrication and approach to garment construction takes her into a design practice that demands incredible precision and leaves little room for error. But what started as in interest in fashion buying transformed into relentless experimentation with a sewing machine, upcycling vintage finds pulled from the racks of Value Villages from Ajax to Bloor Street.

The resulting pieces come from the most unlikely materials—bags from mint high tops, corsets from basketballs, and swimwear from tracksuits. Natalya finds her fun and playful design personality by collaborating with other designers, allowing her voice and creative vision to come through from the challenge of working with a finished product from another designer. Her originality always emerges in seamlessly tailored mosaics that make garments that are half-outfit, half-pop art, donned by dancers in Sean Paul videos and even the Migos onstage.

So how does one walk the line of finding their own personal style while working with cult classic fashion brands? We talked with Natalya about her work with adidas and how to find a style that stays true to you.

Toronto upcycling artist Natalya Amres poses in adidas RYV

We’ve noticed adidas is really working to champion female creators with their RYV campaign. Can you share how this comes through in your creative approach, personal style, and design work?
There is a constant need for women to always prove themselves in whatever industry they’re in. I suppose it comes through in my designs because I don’t want to put out anything mediocre. It feels like everything you do has to make an impact: you feel like you don’t have the luxury of being mediocre. I’m always questioning, How can I make it an innovation instead of just putting something out? This is a really important time for female creators. Everyone is waiting to see what women are doing in the spaces they’re in.

“This is a really important time for female creators. Everyone is waiting to see what women are doing in the spaces they’re in.”

What started you on your fashion design journey?
It was quite the long journey! I was always making things out of random stuff, and collected quite a few thrifted pieces growing up. I went to Ryerson for graphic design, but got more into fashion and dropped out to pursue the Fashion Business Management course at Seneca. I wasn’t trying to learn sewing or anything: I really wanted to be a buyer.

After graduation, I randomly bought a sewing machine to tailor things I got from the thrift store, but I found myself getting deeper and deeper into experimentation. In 2018, I was trying to sell stuff online—mostly track pants that I tried to make more interesting. My first remix was made from this pink tracksuit, which I made into a bralette. I posted the outfit to Heroine and Instagram. I paired the Instagram post with a story video of the process behind it and got a lot of feedback. I did the same thing the next day, and the next day, and the next day… and I kept doing it.

Toronto upcycling artist Natalya Amres poses in adidas RYV

What’s your creative process like?
My dad is a big mind map advocate. I’ve gotten into it to straighten my thoughts out and to organize projects: 90 percent of the time I’ll land on idea, and this process helps direct and archive thoughts. Once I determine what the idea is, it’s down to figuring out how to manipulate the material to make it happen. I spend a lot of time planning my first incision.

“I’m super introverted in the real world, but something that I’m holding can explain my creative side.”

Where do you get fashion inspiration?
From everywhere and everything. A lot of it comes from social media. I have so many photos of things I’ve saved from random browsing on my desktop. I also enjoy studying how things are made and experimenting with different materials. I’ve been exploring things. Like, how do you make a candle? OK, and now how do you make soap? How do I make things out of clay resin? I go into these deep video rabbit holes of learning for hours and hours. Once you learn new things and have the equipment, it opens up a new realm of possibilities.

Toronto upcycling artist Natalya Amres poses in adidas RYV

Tell us about your wardrobe. Any crazy pieces in there? Do you have any wild stories about any of your clothes or outfits?
My family has most of my stuff. I’ve thrifted so many things. I’m an all-black type of person—I dress modestly almost, a lot of comfort pieces. I’ve given most of my crazy pieces to my sister. My closet is a mix of black, neutrals, two-piece tracksuits, and white-washed denim… I’m a big advocate of the Canadian tuxedo.

Also, there are corsets and random weird stuff in there. A lot of weird accessories that I’ve made. I rely on accessories to bring out personality to my outfit

Now, I feel like a dress like a ninja!

What do you think makes the perfect accessory?
For me, the first thing I think of is a bag. Regardless of what your outfit is, your bag can say so much about you. I love making bags: it can single-handedly tell your personality. For example, I’m super introverted in the real world, but something that I’m holding can explain my creative side.

I think the best accessories are something that can easily speak for themselves. If it’s sitting by itself on the table, it’s just as cool as if you’re holding it.

Toronto upcycling artist Natalya Amres poses in adidas RYV

In your opinion, what makes someone have good style? And what do you think takes something from being “trendy” to being classic or iconic?
It’s a hard thing to gauge because it’s so subjective. What they’re wearing reflects their personality—they nail their own personality. They know themselves.

I always knew I liked fashion, but there was a time I was almost forcing it by wearing things that weren’t me. Once you learn what works for you is when you really tap into your style. It’s like when you see people on the street and you’re like, Damn, they nailed it.

With regards to what makes something classic… things nowadays are becoming more sustainable. Classic items need to have a sustainability factor to offer longevity. Fast fashion was dying before the pandemic, but I feel like it’s really dead now. I feel like there’s going to be a huge increase in shoppers looking for items that are going to last them for several years.

Photographer: Katherine Holland
Creative Director: Alex Narvaez
Producer: Mollie Rolfe
Stylist: Shirin Nadjafi
Makeup & Hair: Sherlyn Torres

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