Introducing Nicole McLaughin, the upcycling designer enlisted by Reebok for their latest sneaker drop, a new rendition of the Club Geo C Mid – and it has pockets! Whilst behind-the-scenes at an upcycling workshop for new and existing fans of the technique and her work, Nicole told CULTED about her roots at Reebok, inspirations for the collab, and goals for the future.
Nicole McLaughin – in case you’re out of the loop – is an upcycling designer known for taking trash and making it fashion. Her Instagram features an array of different materials from sandwich bags to sauce packets, all transformed into wearable items. Her collaboration with Reebok – released last week – involved redesigning one of their iconic silhouettes into her own upcycled iteration, challenging Nicole to spin her highly unique style for a mass audience.
When it came to reimagining Reebok’s Club Geo C Mid in her own personal style, Nicole claims she was inspired by the roots of Reebok’s original function: going back to nature. “Once I saw the model I would be working on, I knew I wanted to bring different trail elements to it, so there’s pockets on it, there’s reflectivity, it has a mudguard feature.” Sparing no added detail, the shoe is literally embellished with every upgrade possible; a kind of swiss-army knife for the foot.
As is a common feature of her own designs, upcycling was at the forefront of Nicole’s mind when approaching the collaboration. She’s known for her unconventional materials, describing bread – yes, bread – as her favourite ‘sustainable fabric’ to work with because of its versatility. Plus, you can always take the design apart after and have it for dinner!
Nicole explains it was hard at first to adapt upcycling into a mass-produced product. She created the first sample of her Club C Geo Mid sneaker from upcycled materials but didn’t immediately see how it could be replicated for Reebok’s market. In the end, the shoe was produced by sourcing materials that were recycled or end of roll to make it as sustainable as possible, but Nicole still maintains, “I really am hoping to do more upcycled projects at a larger scale in the future.”
Nicole actually began her upcycling journey when working at Reebok as a graphic designer back in 2016, describing collaborating with them now as a serious full circle moment. “It’s so crazy – I never thought I would get this opportunity. I always just think back to my younger self that was working at the computer and how far it’s come.”
From a graphic designer interning at the brand she’s now collaborating with as a designer, Nicole Laughin has come a huge distance in her journey, but similarly to the life-cycle of her upcycled garments, there’s no final destination. Looking to the future, she says she wants to do more workshops, encouraging others along for the ride and to get involved in upcycling and sustainable design.
The Reebok x Nicole McLaughlin Club C Geo Mid Shoes were released on Reebok’s website on 9th December.
More on CULTED