Adhesif sticks industry secrets to street label

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      There's a secret society of sorts in the vintage-clothing industry. It is one in which clothing is sold by the pound, not in cozy, decorated boutiques but in huge warehouses where tens of thousands of dollars' worth of vintage duds passes hands in any given month. Of course, ask anyone lucky enough to have caught a glimpse inside and the answer is "I can't disclose that kind of information."

      Melissa Ferreira, the Vancouver-based designer behind Adhesif Clothing ( ), is one such individual. "It's all kept under wraps," she told the Straight . "No one discloses where these warehouses are, and they aren't open to the public." But as buyer for vintage retailers like True Value Vintage, she visited such places frequently–until she quit her job last year to focus on her own label.

      With this understanding of the industry, it's only natural that Adhesif designs are inspired by a desire to create unique garments using old fabrics. That they're aligned with fashion's increasing role in promoting eco-conscious, sustainability-driven consumer decisions–well, that was fortuitous coincidence.

      Ferreira began Adhesif nearly five years ago while working as a buyer. "I saw that there was a lot of interest in the possibility of using recycled materials," she says, "and vintage clothing has always been a huge love for me." Though much of her material these days is handpicked from the "hundreds of thrift stores" she frequents, it continues to be the clothing itself that inspires her.

      Adhesifs fall collection includes the pleated and vintage-sweet Floret jacket.

      "The quality and craftsmanship of clothing from the 1950s and 60s was amazing," she points out. "The coats and garments have lasted 50 years and they're still ticking." Ferreira is also inspired by themes and textures. "There are a few colours that recur every season," she notes. "I love red and different shades of green–chartreuse, olive, turquoise, and emerald–and I like using oversize buttons."

      Each season for Adhesif includes at least six styles, consisting mainly of tops. "Because my designs are eclectic and a bit eccentric, they tend to speak better as something in the forefront," explains Ferreira. "Besides, most women are less afraid of wearing unique pieces on top." Her fall collection includes the Floret jacket, with an asymmetrical collar, tailored back pleats, and vintage cloth-covered "buds" decorating the front; the Vivienne sweater, which can be worn as a minidress or long top; and the Cowl Mini sweater-dress, featuring three-quarter puff sleeves and an exaggerated, convertible cowl neck. (Sweaters and jackets run about $160 each. The line is available at Dream [311 West Cordova Street], Liquid [2050 West 4th Avenue], and Hum Clothing [3623 Main Street].)

      A preview of spring 2008 reveals a more technical look and includes a pleated, pocketed jumper made from non-stretch cotton. Both collections are colourful and each item is, as always, made by Ferreira and her two full-time seamstresses. "My pieces find their wearers, not the other way around," she says. "It's cool to see someone home in on a piece–it's definitely a love-at-first-sight type of relationship."