Since the 1960s, Bohemian styles have been in and out of fashion trends. However, for Laurel Thomas, the artist behind Sapphire Gypsy Chic, that appearance has always been her signature style. “When people stop me on the street to ask where I got my decorated coat, I tell them I made and designed it myself,” he said. After years of being persuaded by his friends, Thomas began to make and sell his unique and artistic coat to others.
Thomas’s coat is a quirky and unique garment that is easy to wear. “I wear mine with jeans or leggings,” he said. “I put on one of my gypsy coats and got dressed right away!”
Over the past four years, Thomas has been recycling and updating coats for his Sapphire Gypsy Chic line. Thomas’ upbringing in a creative and ecologically sound family sparked his love for recycled goods. Growing up, his grandfather would find random decorations at garage sales and turn them into lamps, giving uses to decorative pieces. “Years ago, skateboards became popular and we couldn’t afford them,” he recalls. “My grandfather found scrap metal slides, took them apart, found planks and installed wheels at both ends. It was faster than someone else’s skateboard. All kids want to ride it instead of their fancy board! “
From his mother, Thomas learned how to refurbish and recycle clothes. “My mom will re-layer the furniture and take buttons and zippers from used clothes for future sewing projects,” he said. “I’ve always thought that being so exciting can breathe new life into something old and tired and make it beautiful and reusable.”
The idea of repurposing, refashioning and recycling has always permeated Thomas’s life. When she danced Flamenco, one of her dance teachers showed her to take a used dress, cut it off and add fringe and ruffles. When he was the artistic director of the drum and dance troupe Sirens of the Sapphire Moon, he learned to unload recycled materials, add beads and knick-knacks, and create new costumes. When she makes jewelry, she loves to find vintage jewelry pieces and reprocess them into new necklaces and earrings.
Thomas also has an instilled passion for vintage clothing and fabrics that are well made and well-loved. “I like picking up things that some people will see as trash,” he said. “The word ‘upcycling’ is relatively new, but people were doing it before it became a thing. It’s something I’ve always been doing and I grew up with, the concept of fixing what you have and revising it.
To Thomas, recycled materials made sense. “It doesn’t make sense to go to a mall where I see racks and racks of the same cheap quality clothes that fall apart and end up in landfills,” he said. “What do you do with cheap polyester that’s not durable and breaks easily? I love good quality fabrics that have been worn before and deserve to come back for more. At thrift stores, I can find good items that are meant to last. Slow dress for me, everyone! “
Slow fashion is a term that definitely applies to Thomas’s carefully crafted, organic work. To make a coat, he had to take things apart before putting them together into a new design. “It’s like an artistic puzzle,” he said. “People thought I had a fancy sewing machine, but I actually used an old Brother that I bought for $ 25 on an exchange site. I also hand-sew a lot. A lot of work is being done on each of these updated coats. ”
Thomas began the manufacturing process by finding out the design behind it. From there, he worked his way around. “The pieces seem to be of their own design,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain it, it just happened. I don’t follow any rules. I am compulsive and self-taught. I don’t really consider myself a tailor, I just know how to put things together in a creative and cohesive way. When you are an artist, you can imagine what could be something rather than what it really is and then create something special, fun and unique. “
To purchase one of Thomas’s custom suits, visit sapphiregypsychic.etsy.com or follow him on Instagram at @sapphire_gypsy_chic.