Local Designer Launches Exclusive Up-Cycled Collection for Buffalo Exchange

As an avid thrifter and vintage fiend, there’s nothing I love more than finding an amazing piece at my local thrift shop. However, vintage pieces, while certainly having trendy components to them, most of the time are ill-fitting, and as a shopper, you run the risk of looking like you stepped back in time, rather than being on top of the current trends and styles.

If only there was a talented local designer to up-cycle these great thrift store finds and revamp them into lust-worthy pieces for any fashionistas’ wardrobe! Enter: Tiffe Fermaint. This fashion designer has partnered with Tempe’s Buffalo Exchange for the perfect collaboration to make recycled fashion affordable and chic. Tiffe’s upcycled collection, fittingly name, “Reincarnation,” blends 90’s punk themes and 80’s coolness for unique pieces that are high in drama and easy on your wallet, with shoes starting at $18 and tops at $25.

With all the excitement over this collection launch, I was thrilled to be able to connect with Tiffe and learn about her story as a fashion designer, as well as more about her collaboration with Buffalo Exchange!

How did you start designing?
“I started when I was 15. I made my own clothing and custom jeans. I set up a ‘geocities’ website (this was in ’99) and started selling custom jeans to ravers all over the country. My clothing design and seamstress skills became more refined over the next few years and I started participating in the LabelHorde fashion shows in Phoenix. My clothing was sold in boutiques locally and in California and New York. Years later, I became a seamstress for a ballroom dance gown line, where my sewing and pattern drafting improved. At the time, I was also attending Mesa Community College for Fashion Merchandising. When I turned 21, I moved to Los Angeles and attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and I majored in Fashion Design. Few years later, I returned to Phoenix and worked on set of TV, movie and commercial productions in the costume department. I continued to design and send out samples to artists in the music industry. After a few years of working in costume, I shifted to retail. I became a visual merchandiser and stylist and still am to this day. 2010 marked my 10 year anniversary since I started my line and I made a special collection to mark the occasion. An event was held in the courtyard of the Arizona Center, and I produced a fashion show with supporting designers to show the collection. I participated in the Scottsdale Fashion Week Designer of the Year competition the following year and interned for designer Joy Li. Recently, I was hired as a seamstress for Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza while they were in town.”

How did this Buffalo Exchange partnership come about?
“Last summer they offered me the opportunity to carry my clothing in their store. It wasn’t the best time for me but I kept the opportunity in the back of my head. This summer, I approached them with the idea of creating an up-cycled collection exclusively for their store using my design aesthetics. They were into it!”

How do you think this helps move local fashion forward?
“The purpose of this collection is to promote recycled fashion. Buffalo Exchange began the concept of buy / sell / trade in the ’70s and has brought awareness to the issue of waste. We throw away an average of 60lbs of clothing a year. By recycling and upcycling clothing, we are helping the environment and doing it in a stylish way. These unique garments are reincarnated with a designer’s touch. I hope that buyers feels like they’re part of the solution and not the problem.”

What were you inspired by when you created the collection?
“I’ve had an 80s collection designed for some time, and I thought that infusing my designs into this collection while recreating them would be a perfect.”

Is it all repurposed vintage/thrifted pieces?
“Yes, they are all thrifted from Goodwill.”

Do you have any advice for people on how to style the garments they purchase from your collection?
“Think outside the box, but dont do what is expected. All of these pieces are pretty flashy, but that doesnt mean you can’t pair them together. The looks are 80s chic and 90s grunge but can all work together.”

What are your future plans?
“In November, I will be showing a new runway collection (not up-cycled) at Medusa’s Revenge Fashion Show at the Monarch Theatre. My boyfriend and I have an electronic music project called Being Cool is Lonely and our debut performance is during intermission.”

Any advice for up and coming designers in the local industry like PHXFW’s emerging designers?
“Competitions like PHXFW Emerging Designers’ are great for motivation but success and talent is not measured by who wins. Persistence is key. I’ve traveled a great deal from my teenage rave designer days but my path is still stretched far ahead. I’ve said yes to almost every opportunity offered to me and I challenge myself every single day. Even if there are not industry giants breathing down my neck here in Phoenix, I still feel a pressure to do my best and always make sure that my collection is much better than the last. Never settle!”

Great advice, thanks Tiffe!

Don’t miss Tiffe’s official in-store event Sept 2nd, where her Buffalo Exchange “Reincarnation” Collection is launched to the public and available for purchase! For more information, visit her Facebook event page and RSVP! 

Article by Lauren Pfingstag for Phoenix Fashion Week,Images by Evan Romine

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