“The one thing that has forever been ingrained in my brain is differentiation. Every day you challenge yourself — how do you stand out? How do you take out the competition? So much of what I do now, the success I have, it all started at Seneca.”
April 18, 2019
Natalya Amres was serving at a restaurant last fall when she got a text that changed the course of her career path. Migos, the American hip-hop trio, was wearing her clothes on stage in Philadelphia as part of Drake’s Aubrey & The Three Migos tour.
“I still can’t quite process that moment,” said the Seneca grad who until recently was working two serving jobs to support herself. “I knew there was a chance they’d wear them but it was not guaranteed.”
Amres graduated from the Fashion Business Management program. She describes herself as a cut-and-sew designer who reconstructs sportswear. Think Puma pants turned into a two-piece set of pants and a bralette.
“I trimmed off the excess fabric from the inseam of the legs and ended up with two triangle pieces. And I thought, ‘Bralette!’” she said.
That was just a little over a year ago. At the time, Amres was trying to sell some old sports-branded track pants that she didn’t wear anymore. She thought they’d sell faster if she reworked — remixed — them. And they did.
After posting her reconstructed Puma piece on Heroine, an online marketplace, the item was sold immediately. The same thing happened when Amres posted another remix the next day and again the day after that. Soon she started posting her work on Instagram and selling them on her website Remixed by Tal.
Then, as luck would have it, a musician friend of Amres wore her Kappa remix on stage in Toronto, not knowing that representatives from brands like Jordan and Kappa were in the audience. A few months later, she was approached by Jordan for her first big collaboration — remixing Jordan gear for the launch of the new Air Jordan AWOK sneakers at a Jumpman brunch.
“It was one of the most meaningful collabs because it broke me out of my shell,” Amres said. “It opened the doors to me doing live customizations.”
For example, when Migos requested custom Kappa tracksuits from the Italian sportswear brand, they commissioned Amres.
“I was given three days to work on the outfits,” she said. “It was so stressful, I didn’t sleep!”
And it wasn’t until several concerts and alterations later (they didn’t fit initially) that Migos finally wore them on stage.
Since then, Amres has gone from having to de-stitch Kappa bands for remixing to Kappa sending her rolls of their bands from Italy.
Not bad for someone who started a jewelry business out of high school, selling beaded bracelets on Facebook, and learned how to sew by watching YouTube videos after she graduated from Seneca.
“I never saw a sewing machine at Seneca,” Amres said, chuckling. “I never saw myself as a fashion designer. I wanted to become a fashion buyer.”
In fact, the one class Amres failed and had to retake while studying at Seneca was garment construction.
“The professor was so good he would not let you get away with something mediocre,” she recalled. “He wouldn’t sugar-coat anything. Even though I felt like a misfit in the program back then, the one thing that has forever been ingrained in my brain is differentiation. Every day you challenge yourself — how do you stand out? How do you take out the competition? So much of what I do now, the success I have, it all started at Seneca.”
Whether it’s remixing a duffel bag into a jacket or a windbreaker into a pair of track pants, Amres has made no secret about her cut-and-sew process, often sharing photos online from start to finish.
Recently, she was invited by Nike and Jordan to attend the NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, N.C., where female business leaders and creatives gathered in celebration of female empowerment.
“I still don’t know why I was picked,” Amres said. “I’m so small — I just started doing this. Some of the other women who were invited have fully structured companies. But once I got there, I realized no one there was too good for anyone. We were all there to help support each other.”
Back in her home studio, a small condo in downtown Toronto, the Ajax native is a one-woman operation with four sewing machines, two of which take up counter space in her kitchen. Her latest projects include an Adidas campaign for Nite Jogger sneakers and custom Kappa pieces for Sofi Tukker, the Los Angeles-based musical duo that performed at this year’s Grammys.
“Everything’s happening so fast, but really, the remix was born out of me thrifting my whole life,” she said. “I source all my raw materials.”
And then there’s storytelling.
“You have to be relatable to your market audience,” Amres said. “People like to see the cut-and-sew photos and they like seeing me model my clothes. I do that as a way to simultaneously create a brand for myself. People want to see the person doing it live. It has to be authentic.”