“I moved to Portland from Arkansas in 2012 to launch my clothing line and seek out more creative opportunities with like-minded people. There is such a rare atmosphere of collaboration and encouragement in the Portland arts and fashion community. My collaborations with all the amazing female artists and makers in Portland is truly one of my biggest inspirations and influences. I became the designer-in-residence at a Portland shop called Backtalk, where the owner Katie Freedle exclusively features the work of independent designers.
In my year at Backtalk, I was able to develop my line and meet so many amazing collaborators. One of my favorite collaborations was a photo shoot I had at Backtalk using local photographer Hillary Boles for my most recent collection. This collection was inspired by the 1991 arthouse film, A Little Stiff, 1980s Japanese minimalism, and the song, Yama Yama, by the Yamasuki Singers. In fact, I titled the collection Yama Yama. For models, I reached out to the gorgeous Kassala Holdsclaw through Instagram, and I also used my all-time favorite muse, gallery owner Kayleigh Nelson.
I borrowed jewelry from Sea + Pattern, and I integrated the wire sculptures of Lane Walkup into several of the shots. I currently use these photos as the product shots on my website, and afterwards I commissioned customized wire hangers from Lane Walkup for my studio, and then Lane ended up installing her sculptures in Backtalk. I love when collaborations come full circle!”
About Laurs Kemp
Laurs Kemp is a fashion designer who hails from the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and moved to Portland, Oregon in 2012 in search of like-minded artists, independent movie-houses, and vegan cuisine. She currently designs a small line of body-positive wearables inspired by the Female Gaze. In June 2015, Laurs became the designer-in-residence for the West End location of Backtalk. She makes and sells garments out of her studio space in the back of the shop.