words by Maria Manuela • clothing by Neo Thread Vintage • photography by Kymon Palau • model, Kylie O’Brien • art direction by Good Mood Studio
Sarah Gonzales isn’t a typical fashion designer. She didn’t go to design school and everything she knows about sewing she learned from her father. Her brand isn’t typical either. Instead of polluting the planet with trendy styles that end up in landfills, Neo Thread gives old garments new life.
In 2014, when Sarah was a college student on a tight budget, she used another skill handed down by her father to stay stylish—thrifting. After finding pieces that inspired her in local second-hand shops, Sarah would take them home and reconstruct them into a better versions of their former selves. Friends started noticing, and wanting to buy her pieces, so Neo Thread was born. Three years later, in 2017, Sarah left her day job and dedicated herself full time to Neo Thread.
The garments Sarah creates for Neo Thread have that vintage allure of being one-of-a-kind. She reconstructs romantic blouses and dresses, giving them a modern fit. She adorns denim and canvas jackets and pants with silk screened geometric shapes, or patches of Earth-toned fabric; sometimes creating desert sunsets, muted rainbows and pieces of fruit with her patchwork.
“I’m inspired by my upbringing as a proud New Mexican with a large Hispanic family. A lot of my designs are reminiscent of my heritage, culture and surroundings while others are inspired by the colors, patterns and textures of my childhood. The bright pinks and primaries my grandma would dress me in, in Kindergarten. The warm, brown and neutral colors of my desert home. The pastels that were swirled in my favorite lollipop growing up. All of my designs hold a special piece of my story.”
Despite using a wide variety of thrifted pieces to begin with, everything Sarah makes has a specific feel once she’s worked her magic. Neo Thread garments have a retro-meets-celestial vibe. “I believe the common thread that runs through each piece is nostalgia,” Sarah says. “Nostalgia invokes a special joy and celebration of your past; it is my favorite feeling and I create pieces that invoke that feeling in myself and in others. My goal is for the wearer to feel like themselves in a piece, it should express something about who they are as a person and often that starts with acknowledging and celebrating the beautiful parts of their past.”
Neo Thread has a mission and a motto; Cool Girls Care™. “I believe cool girls care about the planet, for others and for themselves. That looks like making more sustainable choices, caring for those marginalized people being taken advantage of in fast fashion and of course caring for yourself; both in self-care but especially self-acceptance. It is so important to the brand that I had it trademarked this year. For me, Cool Girls Care™ is not just a fun phrase or brand motto but a commitment and reminder to continue to do good; to continue to be a brand that values people, the planet, celebrates individuality and challenges consumers to care along with me.”
Sarah’s future vision for Neo Thread is one that includes other upcycling designers. “My ultimate goal to become an online platform for like-minded upcycling artists to sell their crafted clothing. Artists would have their own profiles on the site and have the friction of branding, marketing, customer service and other important obligations taken out of the equation. Their main priority and focus can be creating amazing pieces. I want to build an empowered community that creates consciously and experiences the same life and financial freedom that Neo Thread has given me.”
Neo Thread is growing, and recently took a giant leap by securing space for a brick-and-mortar location. The shop will open this fall as part of the redevelopment of the old Disco Display House in Nob Hill, Albuquerque. The shop will go beyond retail, and host clothing swaps and sewing workshops where people can learn simple skills like button repair and hole mending. “I want it to be a resource for the community. A place to learn about sustainability, conscious living as well as a place to host a variety of workshops and clothing swaps.”
Keep up with Neo Thread, and their shop’s opening date, by following them on Instagram @neothreadco. Until then, shop online at www.neothread.co.