finding beauty in the discarded

photo by Cara Howlett

photo by Cara Howlett

In 2012, Sarah Cameron started a custom clothing design, alterations, and wardrobe consultation company in Calgary called Pure Couture

Before starting her own company, Sarah worked for a vintage clothing store as a vintage clothes hunter. Each day she travelled to a clothing warehouse and went about hunting through piles and bags of clothing seeking unique vintage clothing and accessories to be sold in store. 

Tell me about your job as a vintage clothes hunter working at the clothing warehouse. What was your job like?

I had a master list of what the store was looking for, and I would open bag after bag hoping for something amazing. It was hard work, but super rewarding if—after digging and searching and ripping open bag after bag—you found a real vintage Chanel bag, a beautiful embroidered wool parka with fur trim, or the perfect worn-in-just-right leather biker jacket. If I was really lucky, I would find a band t-shirt from the 70s. If the store I was picking for did not want what I found, I could buy it myself at a crazy cheap price, like a dollar fifty a pound. It was a very lonely job, though, because I was the only one searching for finds.

What were some of the unique things that you found while working there? 

The best situation was if I could find beautiful leather shoes from the 40s and 50s—made in Italy and just so gorgeous. I once opened a bag, and it was full of shoes like that. Some little old lady must have passed away, and no one wanted her amazing shoe collection. That was a good day. My boss was super happy!

photo by Sarah Cameron

photo by Sarah Cameron

Tell me about the quilt that you made your daughter from the fabrics that you found while clothes hunting. Do you remember when you found the fabrics? 

It all started with a dress. I found what looked like a old 50s-style dress that was falling apart, and I saw past that. It was made out of beautiful blues, greens and purple, it was a rose print but sort of modern. It was perfect. It not only inspired the quilt but most of my daughter's room decor. The back of the quilt is made out of what looked to be a old sheet. But not just any sheet—this was a beautiful teal and peach floral print. The both of them just fit, and along the way I found a few more remnants here and there. I started collecting fun fabric when I started clothes hunting in 2010, and when I found out I was having a girl I knew I wanted a baby quilt for her. 

What do you enjoy about fabric patterns? Why do you like vintage ones?

I love unique fabric, but not fabric that's too weird. I think thats why I love vintage fabric, its different, but something about it is so happy and fun. 

photo by Sarah Cameron

photo by Sarah Cameron

When and why did you start sewing? 

I started "sewing" when I was about 10 years old and I was bored with my Barbies' clothing and wanted to design my own clothing for them. The clothes I made for them were mostly taped together. My grandmother gave me a sewing machine when I was about 12 and I loved it! She inspired me, and gave me everything I needed to start sewing. I still have my first sketch book from her. She wanted me to see beauty all around me. 

designs by Sarah Cameron

designs by Sarah Cameron

What do you enjoy about sewing and designing clothes?

I enjoy designing clothing for myself, my family, and my clients. The best feeling is when people try a piece of clothing on I've made for them and it fits just right and feels just right. I have had a few clients cry over a perfectly fitted dress! 

designs by Sarah Cameron

designs by Sarah Cameron

What made you decide to go into the Fashion Design program at Saddleback College in California?

I was sort of unsure what I wanted to pursue in college. My first semester was a mish mash of classes like marine biology, rock climbing, and introduction to fashion. When I realized I could have a career doing something I loved, I jumped at the chance. I was really lucky because the program at Saddleback was amazing!  

Visit Sarah's portfolio for some vintage-inspired couture.