Meet VALLEY’s Fall 2018 Section Opener: Michelle Mischler

Photo by Matt Brownlow

Passion is Michelle Mischler’s defining quality; it’s something I have seen radiate from her earnest gaze. Her demeanor translates through all that she involves herself in, even simple conversation. It’s always been clear to me that her intent is ever-present.

Photo by Matt Brownlow

“I really just like developing new things whether that’s a playlist or an outfit,” says Mischler. “I like to express myself in any way possible, whether that’s what I dress or what I listen to, and I want to constantly give off that brand or authenticity.”

Mischler has always been interested in creative fields that allow her to express herself and her passions.

Her love for music, specifically, has led her to her involvement with Student Programming Association and Movin’ On. She has directed the Noontime Concert Series in the HUB-Robeson center for the past two semesters and was just named Events Director for Movin’ On this year.

As a recreation, parks and tourism management major, Mischler strives to showcase the beauty that is given to us by the natural world.

“I truly enjoy seeing people at their happiest, which is why I want to go into concert management,” says Mischler, “but obviously fashion has fallen right into that passion, which is why I love making things that people love seeing.”

Brainchild on the Uprise

The first time we met, we talked about fashion in the kitchen of a mutual friend’s apartment — style, cohesiveness, the importance of the art itself. She told me she designed, and my esteem for her grew tenfold.

Slowly but surely, Mischler began to add some direction to her creativity. The process came naturally as she would pine after pieces she longed to incorporate into her own style.

“I would see something in a store and then would want it, but not be able to get it, so I started being a little more creative,” says Mischler. “[I started] teaching myself how to sew and then I realized that I was developing a cohesive vision.”

This was the genesis of what she called her “baby line” — a loose collection of her very first 15 pieces that followed a cohesive vision. She was fortunate enough to have her close friends model for the line’s debut at her high school talent show during her senior year.

Photo by Matt Brownlow

From there, she curated a specifically nuanced vision for her next line that she titled, “Insecure Nudist,” which was heavily inspired by the stylings of the 1960s. She orchestrated a photoshoot to promote her work after creating multiple pieces and then posted them on her website.

All of this has brought her to her most recent, fully realized collection, “Revive the 9 to 5.” To say the line is innovative is an understatement; Mischler was able to reimagine the way people dress for a business environment. She describes the visual aesthetic as “artsy-professional” or how she would want to dress if she ended up working a corporate job of some sort.

“For Revive 9 to 5, I realized that I will eventually have to be a businesswoman and I don’t want to wear ‘businesswoman outfits,’” says Mischler.

Practicality Meets Purpose

Mischler didn’t necessarily have the financial ability to invest in new materials for her work, so she had to quickly find alternatives to fuel her constructive endeavors. She discovered while thrifting that bed sheets were simply unconventional yards of fabric that she could use in place of store-bought fibers.

“Fashion products in general, like zippers, thread and fabrics are all ridiculously expensive by themselves, and I was like, ‘Why am I spending money on that as well?’ So I found alternative solutions to maintain the style and expression that I wanted to give off, but then also be, not just eco-friendly, but original with what I’m wearing,” says Mischler.

This ecologically conscious aspect inspired her even more to create sustainable pieces of work that could speak to a greater purpose while still pleasing the eyes of those who appreciated her style.

As her second line, Insecure Nudist, grew in fruition and attention, she made it a point to become even more educated on the issues that surround the fast fashion industry: mass-produced clothing lines that are inspired by runway trends, but sold in excess for significantly less money than high-fashion brands.

“Fast fashion is a huge [aspect of] our industry right now,” says Mischler. “It’s all about pushing out what is the newest and latest, and by doing that, we’re mass producing, but then that trend goes by so quickly.”

Too Quick to Waste

The most pressing, negative factor that fast fashion has on the world that it’s created in is the sheer amount of waste that is produced and no one addresses its magnitude.

Photo by Matt Brownlow

“Actually, second to the oil industry, fashion is right up there when it comes to actually producing waste,” says Mischler. “Because people are constantly changing their fashion, we produce, on average, 70 pounds [of waste] per person [annually].”

Mischler sees so much opportunity for items of clothing to be reused in new, innovative ways and makes sure she puts that idea into action. Her confidence in the principle of reducing, reusing and recycling falls in line with the problematic nature of fast fashion perfectly.

“That’s why I live in thrift — because I’m taking something that maybe someone else didn’t want, but thankfully at least chose to donate,” says Mischler. “Whether people realize it or not, [the fashion industry] impacts the way that they live and what they choose to wear.”

Moving On

From here, Mischler has hopeful plans for her growing brand and creative expression. When asked about where she sees her brand going, she described the hardships attached to producing larger quantities of recycled fashion.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to selling my products I still have not figured out that niche yet. Everything is one-of-a-kind — if someone wanted my pink suit in a different size, it’s not possible, that fabric is gone now,” says Mischler. “Which is great because I reused it, but [that means] it’s being used.”

Her innate creativity and drive to make a difference in the world are what separate Mischler from most. She is able to turn her ideas into actions and her actions into change that have a positive impact on the world that she loves.

There is such awe in how she finds beauty in the materials that so many disregard, but the true acclaim to her vision is the initiative she takes to go the extra mile and create when no one else will.

“I’m not really sure how I’m going to expand that at the moment, however, I do know there is an interest which is very exciting,” says Mischler. “Hopefully, in my life, I’ll grow to produce for other people as well. Maybe someone can give me a bed sheet, and I can take it from there — that would be cool.”


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