But first, let me quickly digress — and tell you a little about who the narrator of this is. I’m Thea (*digital wave*). Combined with studying and working with design, I’ve always been writing. To me, these two things are intrinsically linked. And I knew that if I ever were to create something, it needed to be an amalgamation of these two creative outlets of mine.
Hence, TUBU will be both an editorial resource and a modular apparel system. It’s taken me ten years to fully come to terms with the fact that I actually am an apparel designer, as I’ve been hiding my BA in textiles away behind journalism and an MA in graphic design. But my interest in clothing started in a very personal way.
So, let’s go back in time. To a time of Nokia flip phones and Spice Girls.
To me, memories are ingrained in a few specific items of clothing, and my wardrobe is a closet of stories and memories.
I learned to sew on my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine.
It was from the 50’s and was so heavy that I needed help (as I was about nine) with carrying it up on our wooden living room table. I was also afraid of it, of the electric pedal and the whirring engine, and so terrified of piercing my fingers with the jabbing needle. So at first, I only used the hand wheel, meticulously and laboriously sewing together bits of material with one hand.
My mother was the one who inspired and encouraged my sewing. She supplied me with fabrics from her sewing chest — sturdy canvas cotton, slips of silk and crisp linens. Eventually, I braved the electric pedal, and old bed sheets (with cartoon patterns) became small tote bags or skirts I found très chic.
See, I was an exceptionally scrawny and short kid, and as a teenager nothing fit me. Correction: Clothes in the kid’s department did, which wasn’t exactly encouraging. I was a late bloomer and my older sister helped me dress in baggy jeans and skater hoodies, made me an email account too cool for me (tiny_b_girl@yahoo) and played me Lauryn Hill. She taught me how to snowboard, and mastering speed in the snow gave me confidence in my body, in spite of its quirky childish appearance.
Learning how to construct garments, to mold a silhouette and shape — and turn a flat 2D fabric into 3D, just by using small stitches with a thin needle, revolutionized my childhood and teenage years. I felt like I had unlocked a world of potential. It also made me feel powerful, as I for so long had felt so small.
I could finally create the clothes that were missing.
There have always been predominantly women in my life. Having a somewhat tumultuous childhood, I was a dance and theater kid, raised by a single mother (a former professional ballet dancer) and spent a lot of time with my older sister, mimicking her every move (when she opted for oversized neon athletic gear, Carhartt scuba jackets and snowboard apparel, I — of course — did the same) — or at my grandparents house, watching my grandmother as she carefully got dressed with colorful silk scarves and small pieces of jewelry. I learned that «femininity» and «masculinity» in dress are many — very different — things.
To me, memories are ingrained in a few specific items of clothing, and my wardrobe is a closet of stories. And I will do my best to share these in future essays, along with information about TUBU and how and why I wanted to build an apparel company like this.
You see, at the heart of TUBU is the love for text and textiles — in sum, storytelling.