A Conversation with: Gorm
Maximalism and sustainability don’t always go hand in hand when it comes to design. Enter GORM, the Canadian fashion brand catering to conscious consumers seeking storytelling clothing, committed to creating looks that are anything but mundane and allow for endless self-expression.
Founded by the visionary Bianca Daniela Nachtman, GORM’s mission revolves around “Gormandizing fashion” – an approach that satisfies maximalist urges responsibly. We had the privilege of speaking with Bianca about her unique approach to designing maximalist pieces with minimal environmental impact and ensuring inclusivity throughout the process.
GORM means to overindulge or eat in excess. In your case, it refers to overindulging in fashion. How does this concept translate into the brand and influence your approach to design?
Due to my maximalist nature I knew “GORM” would perfectly describe the brand I wanted to build. I knew it would be full of extravagance and may be seen as too much to some people. To overindulge means having too much of something enjoyable and that’s what I wanted every GORM item to embody. Whether I’m making a collection from vintage bedding, taking a bag of keys and adorning a blazer, or using a bucket of shells to make a dress, I’m constantly influenced by pushing the limit or doing too much, which is what GORM means to me.
How do you ensure that the emphasis on creating extravagant, maximalist designs doesn’t compromise your commitment to sustainable fashion practices?
Since I source almost all my materials via second hand (minus the occasional fixings like thread, hooks, etc) it allows me to use as much of those materials to create these extravagant items without the same environmental impact as major fashion houses since it’s recycled. So as long as I maintain my recycling ability I will not contribute to the water waste, dye pollution, import pollution, underpaid workers and all the other facets that contribute to the unsustainability of the fashion and fabric industry. GORM in my hands will always be made to order and never mass produced.
In your experience as a brand that exclusively uses recycled and thrifted materials, what challenges have you encountered when sourcing these materials?
For me, I come across more challenges when it comes to customs, because that’s when certain materials get asked for and when you’re sourcing for second hand materials the odds of finding exactly what you’re being asked for is slim. So I always preface the need for leniency with specifics when creating customs. Another heartbreaking element is when you’ve found the perfect material but there isn’t enough of it and there’s no way for you to get more. This is when you might have to reimagine what you want to create, which I secretly love. Sometimes for me a garment is constantly changing because of this and I really enjoy the creativity that comes from it. Though most of the time when I’m sourcing materials I like to let the fabric speak to me, so I’m hardly going out and sourcing for something specific but rather I’m letting the items inspire me.
As a fashion designer who values self-expression, what advice would you give to aspiring designers who want to create their own unique style and make a meaningful impact in the industry?
I think knowing who you are is very important in this industry, the more I grow and get rooted in who I am, the better I design because my creations are more genuine. It’s easy to lose oneself in this industry because of how ego based it is. If you focus on yourself and not what others are doing you will see greater success. Hopefully through that you’ll be able to make an impact in the industry because you’re providing it with something it hasn’t had before – you.
GORM has gained a strong following within the queer community, as it promotes itself as a safe space for self-expression. How do you actively ensure that your brand remains inclusive and representative of the needs and desires of the queer community?
When I started GORM, having it be genderless wasn’t even a question in my mind, it just happened naturally. Casting models from my own community happened naturally. I always yearned for a space where people felt free to be the grandest expression of oneself, where no self discovery was judged. Being inclusive feels fundamentally ingrained in me, and by proxy ingrained in GORM. In the future when projects get bigger and I need the help of other creatives, I will look into my own community. I know how much representation matters and reflects oneself. So as long as I’m authentic, GORM will be a safe space for the queer community.
GORM is best known for its extravagant vintage cowboy hats embellished with fixings, buttons, zippers and fringe. Is there any other piece in particular that you wish more people knew about?
One of my recent favorites has been the 2-piece pillow set from my most recent collection “Sleepless In…” that I created from a vintage pillow case. It’s such a cute look and I love the camp-y-ness of it!
As someone who takes on multiple roles within your brand, from sourcing materials to shooting lookbooks, what are some of the challenges you face as a one-woman operation, and how do you overcome them?
I definitely think burnout is the main challenge I face, it’s either that or falling victim to my mental state. Since it’s just me, when I’m down the whole operation is down. I don’t know if I’ve mastered how to overcome that, but I try to not be hard on myself and take it slow. Sometimes you have to let your body go through the motions and trust that you’ll get through this. I know this industry is very daunting because of its “go go go” mentality, but when it comes down to it you’re more important.
Looking ahead, what exciting developments or projects do you have in store for GORM?
I have big dreams for GORM, bigger projects, bigger concepts, bigger shows. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes things such as sourcing, drafting concepts, and planning so I can debut my next collection to its most extravagant ability. I’m excited to finally get to the creating process so I can get the ball rolling on my next show because it’s going to be my best one yet!
Loved this interview? Check out our conversation with L’Uomo Strano founder and designer Mic. Carter.