Q&A with Models Own designer Mishel Bouillet

A few weeks ago I got to connect with my eco-fashion crush and the 2016 Eco-Fashion Week’s feature designer, Mishel Bouillet. Her recent collection Control has shaped a new wave of slow fashion and conscious design in Vancouver, which in my eyes has been a door opened for more contemporary style approach. Clothing by Mishel Bouillet. Accessories by @shopsutie and @3101__


Mishel you haven’t stopped the momentum since you showed your collection at Eco- Fashion Week! What kind of influence have you absorbed from that experience? What has it provided for your work?

Eco fashion week was an amazing experience and since this was my first solo show I learned so much not only about the runway show process and what is involved behind the scenes but also about so much about other brands and how they categorize themselves as Eco Fashion. Eco Fashion doesn’t mean you’re walking around in hemp sacks, it’s more of a movement to encourage the fashion industry and the consumer to think ethically in every step of the process, not just the fabrics. The Eco Fashion Week team is absolutely amazing and I’ve kept many of my connections beyond the event and even started working on some side projects with others involved.


How did you get in to fashion design? Did you have set intentions of working in the Eco Fashion Market when you attended VCC or did this idea manifest over the course of your studies?

I’ve been sewing my whole life and started really getting into sewing around 13 years by buying garments I liked from thrift stores and altering them to fit me better or just liking the fabrics but not the actual cut. I had quite a few small endeavours over the years altering vintage clothing into a modern fit or just creating a new garment from the vintage fabrics but finally decided to take the plunge a few years ago and went to school to learn pattern drafting and tailoring techniques. I was a mental health care worker before I started school and one day sitting at my computer I just looked up the program I wanted to take and registered right then haha something I had always wanted to do for the last decade or so but life takes you in many different directions sometimes before you fulfill your ultimate goal. While in school I had many ideas but not any specific intentions to go the eco friendly route, I found it hard enough to grasp the concepts of pattern drafting let alone doing it ethically haha! now it’s all a pieces of (ethical) cake. I honestly didn’t know much about eco fashion when I was in school but knew there must be a better way we can create clothing.

Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Models Own ‘Control’ S/S 16, technology plays a cool factor [the laser cut hems are for sure a staple look in your collections], as well as the message on giving up CONTROL in life to see things flourish. Tell us about the eco-friendly aspects of your design process:

Control was a concept I had when I was trying to design a small collection but was having a hard time finding my “end goal”. Where would I sell it? How would I accomplish all parts of the process when it was just me? How could I start something that has so many small working parts and still be learning along the way? I finally got to a point when I realized I was so afraid of failing that I was stuck in almost a rut at a stand still. I wanted to take on this project for myself so badly but I just couldn’t get past the fear of failing, I was on a plane back from Atlanta and I just went for it. I wrote out how I felt and the rest just started flowing and I knew I couldn’t leave it on paper that i needed to bring this idea to life. I dove in and didn’t try to control every aspect of the project. Lots of things changed and mistakes were made but some of them became the best parts of the collection. If you try and control every aspect of your life you’ll never be happy with the outcome because you’ll always be disappointed, go along for the ride and LOSE CONTROL 😉 I try to incorporate eco friendly aspect to every step in my process from design, cut, sew, and manufacture. I have a small stocklist (two stores) which carry minimal product and orders on demand rather than bi annually after that the pieces are made to order. The fabric is locally sourced so fabric can be re ordered on demand. During the pattern drafting and cutting process i try to eliminate as much waste as possible. The lazer cutting is starting block for me and a work in progress to eventually cut all my fabric pieces by lazer to cut down on fabric usage. Using a lazer to cut fabrics enables me to cut more precise hems which need less room for seam allowance if the fabrics don’t fray. You can cut more pieces out of the fabric, but it also promotes technology in fashion which can be very helpful in reducing waste rather than old school methods.


The Slow Fashion Movement sometimes feels like it’s message is getting across to the masses slower than we would like. People are still going to shop at H&M. I went in there on Friday night before the long weekend and it was packed! There were baby strollers running me over, it was chaotic. Are there maybe some key habits we are not breaking? Can you share any eco-fashion tips that may not get mentioned enough?

Slow Fashion is a concept I hold very relevant to my brand. I encourage people to make purchases outside of season and trend so that garments can be worn for longer periods rather than a certain time of the year. Thinking about where your clothing comes from and how it’s made makes the consumer invest in your brand story. We all need a basic tee shirt or whatever it maybe from the clothing giants but shopping purely on low prices with the intention of wearing it a few times and tossing it aside since it didn’t cost much is where we are going wrong. H and M is simply keeping up with the demand we’re the ones shopping wrong and we need to think about the purpose of our clothing rather than shopping on impulse because of price. If we continue to buy they’ll continue to make it. Models Own garments are meant to be timeless pieces worn over years and I don’t encourage people to buy new pieces each season but buy quality ones which can be worn over and over again. The name Models Own came from this concept, basically you are a model for my brand how will you wear it? I want you to make it your own.


-How has designing and being a part of a bigger social movement affected your personal style? You are diving into some fun waters with your modern aesthetic. It is 2016, but there are still quite a lot of sustainable fair trade textiles traditional in colour and pattern, being exported from different countries all over the globe. Do you think we will start seeing more modern designs because of technology and fabric?

As a designer and an artist you have a message to spread and for me the clothing is my canvas and my voice. Every collection I design is relevant to a message I want to spread and I feel blessed to have found my “soap box” I can relay my thoughts and feelings to the public. Technology is a great tool which I use to be afraid of. I’m a very hands on grass roots type of artist and couldn’t imagine my garments coming to life in any other way but there are somethings you want to accomplish in your work that you have to turn to technology for help with. If you asked me a few years ago if I saw myself turning to technology for help to build my garments I would have laughed and said I’m just trying to figure out the basics but one you have those down you can open up your thought process and realize that technology if a friend and not that scary. I’d like to dabble deeper in the lazer cutting world and eventually start using 3D printing as a larger pat of my process creating my own notions. We’re not that far away and lots of designers are already  using these methods. I would love to see a lot more of this in Vancouver soon.