More than 100 years ago, artists searched the street for inconspicuous materials and objects to create three-dimensional collages, sculptures and other pieces of art. Inspired by this approach, Emma Stubbs created the Assemblage Studio, and now she is always looking for unique materials that the average person would never pay attention to.

Read in our interview how she create 1/1 clothing with excellent mix of vintage design and modern assemblage approach.
More than 100 years ago, artists searched the street for inconspicuous materials and objects to create three-dimensional collages, sculptures and other pieces of art. Inspired by this approach, Emma Stubbs created the Assemblage Studio, and now she is always looking for unique materials that the average person would never pay attention to.

Read in our interview how she create 1/1 clothing with excellent mix of vintage design and modern assemblage approach.
You graduated with a degree in Apparel & Textile Design. Firstly, it's interesting to know why you choose to be a fashion designer? Was it kinda teenager dream or something more?
It's funny how things worked out, I never really had dreams of being a fashion designer as a teenager. I was always into fashion growing up, but more so the styling aspect of it. I was heavily into art throughout my teenage years, I loved to sketch and was into portrait and fashion photography. I learned to sew my senior year of high school and it was soon after I decided I would like to merge all of my interests together and go to college for apparel and textile design.
Which experience did education give you as an artist/designer? What things are still important to you since your study days?
Getting an education in design gave me many experiences. For the first time in my life, I had found my community of people with similar interests as me. It really allowed for experimental growth when you were surrounded by other artists and supportive people and professors that are challenging you to become a better artist. Hearing professors' feedback and listening to other classmates' critiques of my work was also a huge part of growth as an artist. The feeling of being constantly inspired to create was a great feeling, and also I was given the resources and knowledge to make my ideas attainable. Of course, with any formal training also comes the learning of technical skills; like pattern making, garment construction, draping, and CAD. I still use all of these on a daily basis being a fashion designer that essentially runs a solo show.
There're so many interesting projects on your personal website. "UPRISING" collection is a nice example of how you develop some outdoor/techwear stuff in a new key. We feel the same approach in "SKELETAL BODIES". It looks like you're like to "blend" some functional stuff with more dress/formal garments. So, tell us in detail about your creative approach. What's your sources for inspiration? What's important to you while designing new pieces?
Many projects in my professional portfolio are heavily conceptual, and the concept was always developed first. I am always on the search for inspiration, constantly compiling images and ideas that are of interest. For my collection "Skeletal Bodies" I was inspired by the framework of the human body and the organic elements of flesh. Through the juxtaposition of the sharp and the organic, I played with blending both into my designs, through structural pleats with a soft drape on the body or some pieces that had triangular origami along the spine, but had curved cutouts along the rib cage. I go about creating new ideas in a conceptual way because you are able to think everything through, every little detail is meaningful and has a purpose that all ties together while also being visually balanced and engaging.
It's obvious that you fall in love with vintage clothes. Can you remember the trigger that motivated you to be interested in vintage? Which pieces or silhouettes reflect you the most? What's your favorite era of vintage?
I have been interested in old things for a long time. I remember spending hours at antique stores with my mother when I was growing up. I always loved looking at old photographs of my grandparents, especially seeing the outfits my grandmother wore. She was very fashionable and also a seamstress, but died when I was very young so the photos were all I knew.

When I was in college I took many fashion history classes. I was so interested in it that I interned at my university's museum in their Apparel and Textile collection. I mainly worked in their women's apparel archive, where I studied a variety of American clothing dating back to the 1860s. This has also had a huge impact on my work now, as I am heavily inspired by vintage garments as well as the important history textiles hold.
My favorite era is probably the 1930s-1950s. I just love the denim and workwear from this time period, the silhouettes are timeless and something I will always reference in my work. I also am particularly fond of this period because of the historical impact on fashion, The Great Depression and world wars made everyday people and companies reuse and ration materials. I love seeing all of the creative approaches that came out of this; mending, upcycling, and making something from nothing.
It seems that ASSEMBLAGE is more than the most-successful project you run, it's a big part of your life. How did it come with the idea to create it? What were your first steps?
I came up with the idea for Assemblage after graduating college. I basically started out by selling the vintage clothing I had collected over the years at pop up markets. I would bring a handful of "reworked" pieces to each market and they were received really well which inspired me to create more. I then transitioned to acquiring all sorts of vintage textiles and materials that I was drawn to; blankets, military tents, bags, patches, etc. and making fully cut and sewn garments. From there I really began to grow my online presence and establish my brand's distinct identity and aesthetic.
Why was it important to run ASSEMBLAGE as a sustainable brand?
It is important for me to run Assemblage as a sustainable brand because there is a huge textile waste problem in our world. I knew that I didn't want to contribute to this problem when there's already so many materials out there that can be used. It also becomes something much more special by making 1 of 1 garments, each one is completely unique and so much time goes into the process. I believe in making quality garments that will last another lifetime, even though it is small scale it is such a meaningful and dedicated process.
How do you select the pieces for any new garment? Do you have some "trustly" sources of vintage stuff or its spontaneous visits to flea markets?
For sourcing materials, I usually leave it up to spontaneous visits to flea markets, antique stores, estate sales, etc. This process is much more exciting because I let the material come first and then the design comes after, as I never know what I am going to find. I am particularly drawn to materials that might be overlooked, like fabrics with a heavily worn look, patina, rust spots, holes, etc. I also love using military textiles and feed sacks that have unique stenciling and printed details on them. It has also been helpful to make connections with vintage pickers in my area that know what I look for and help me source materials as well.

Some of my favorite "grails" I have found would be some very rare printed feed sacks, one was purple with a rather hypnotic swirl on it and I had never seen anything like it. I also enjoyed finding deadstock embroidered railroad patches from the estate of a railroad conductor from the 1960s. Also, I love finding any military materials from WW2 that have handwritten names, numbers, and drawings on them.
Mostly you produce jackets. For example, "type 1" style or various blanket coats. Why jackets?
Since I do find a lot of heavier fabrics and blankets, I am usually drawn to making jackets out of them. I am also drawn to making jackets because they are very versatile, durable, and can be worn by any gender, making it a sustainable and universal choice.
Tell us about your creative process while working on designing and sewing ASSEMBLAGE garments. Is there anything special about it? Any rituals?
My creative process starts by finding the materials first. I may just use one material, but sometimes I combine a handful of different pieces and patches that I think would look good together. Judging by the weight and drape of the fabric, I then decide what I want to make out of it. For example, if it is a heavy canvas I make a jacket or tote bag out of it. If it is lightweight, I usually will make a button up shirt out of it or use it as a lining for a jacket or bag. Once I have a rough idea of what it is I want to make, I then have to consider the elements of the materials and how I want to incorporate this into my design. For example, military bags usually have stencil details, straps, and hardware that I thoughtfully place into my design. Or, if it is a blanket or material with a print on it, I have to carefully place my pattern pieces out to where I want them to be when worn. There are many things to think about! I also find that sometimes my design process may be more conceptual, like if I have military rain camo material, I will make a rain jacket out of it.
Who's your clients? Are they people who have the same passion for vintage as you? Some creative people who are into art, design and fashion? Or just various people?
I would say that the majority of my clients are people that appreciate meaningful fashion and want to wear something that is exclusive to them. Some of my clients are people that are into the vintage aspect of it, while others may just be interested in the unique design aesthetic overall.
What's your current inspiration?
I am currently getting very inspired by my current work studio space, which resides in what was once an old factory built in 1887. It is a very industrial space, a lot of exposed brick, chippy painted metal, steel grates, and many imperfect areas. I find myself translating this into my work when I embrace materials that are just as worn and battered and irregular and making workwear inspired garments. As always, I find myself being inspired by vintage garments but right now I am big into French workwear and French military jackets. 1940s engineer jackets, traditional farm chore coats, and the pockets and functional design aspects found on military jackets.
What's your plans for the future?
I genuinely love what I do and plan to continue my work well into the future. I plan to continue to experiment with new designs and continue to establish Assemblage. I have some exciting collaborations with other designers in the works, such as a local leatherworker. As far as taking my business to the "next step" I would like to work with a small team of employees and/or interns that would be able to help me in making the operation more productive while still remaining true to my mission and sustainability aspect.

Assemblage Studio website

Emma's personal website

Grade Moscow
19 Mar, 2023