A curious set of colourful button-ups are now part of the collection at the Orange Crush Velvet vintage books and clothing store on 12th Street.
Each shirt boasts a catchy design and a unique material that’s hard to find at a mall outlet.
What’s the story behind the vintage button-ups that feature a clown, a pirate and a basket of fruits?
"Some of them are made with 1950s tablecloths,” said Shawna McLellan, co-founder of Orange Crush Velvet, and the designer behind the cool summer shirts. “I’ve used some barkcloth, which is a type of ‘50s cotton fabric that was used a lot in home décor and also in Hawaiian shirts,” she added.
One of the shirts is made with a reused pirate-themed curtain; yet another is made with a hand screen-printed piece from the ‘60s that might have been used for home décor, she said.
“The fabrics and remnants that are hand screen-printed are my favourite; they are the most artistic ones and the most special because the way an image is applied to the fabric in them is really unique… they don't do that anymore. You can't buy fabric that’s hand screen-printed; it’s very rare,” said McLellan, who studied fine arts (painting and sculpture) at Emily Carr University of Art + Design before developing a keen interest in vintage fashion.
The shirts are part of McLellan’s 2020-founded fashion brand, Shawna McLellan.
The brand's shirts, wide-leg pants, halter tops and quilt and blanket coats — all made out of rare and vintage fabrics — have only been available for purchase through its official website and Instagram page, and at the Block store in Gastown so far.
But now, they can be bought from New West’s newest vintage clothing store — Orange Crush Velvet.
Embracing slow fashion
The Shawna McLellan brand evolved from McLellan’s first fashion venture right out of school.
Rad Attack, founded in 2009, was less about recycled stuff and more about screen printing, tye-dye, surface design and graphics, she said.
While this brand matured, McLellan found herself getting more and more into recycled fashion.
She started working at vintage stores (Community Thrift and Vintage, C’est La Vie Boutique, F As in Frank) and collecting old fabrics — quilts, tablecloths, large textile pieces and deconstructed clothing that were castaway from thrift stores.
“My tastes changed; I was more attracted to vintage materials and working with used stuff.”
Seeing the amount of clothes that are thrown away because of the fast-changing trends, and how that contributed to pollution and wastage, McLellan's opinion on the fast-fashion industry changed.
Determined to give old fabrics a new life, she sewed and patched them up into fashionable clothing.
They came out good enough to be sold at the Community Thrift and Vintage, a non-profit clothing store in Gastown.
“It was going really well. People who buy vintage are interested in buying things made of vintage materials or recycled materials.”
“I saw how that could become a whole new brand,” she said.
Which is what McLellan did — closing down Rad Attack in 2019 to start something that was all about vintage.
Since 2020, McLellan has been slowly adding to her fledgling brand’s stock.
“In terms of it being slow fashion, it's very slow,” said McLellan with a laugh.
“But I love doing it and I'm going to keep doing it. I have so many amazing fabrics and plans that need to be put into work.”
But meanwhile, her store is open for custom orders.
Customers can choose from McLellan’s collection of vintage fabrics and get an outfit tailor-made for them.
Or, rummage through their own hand-me-downs and castoffs to find one that could be turned into a casual brunch wear.
“If they want a special heirloom piece to be recycled and made into something that they can wear, I can do that,” said McLellan.
Orange Crush Velvet is located at 611 12th St.