Meet Saba McCoy
, our newest independent artist and maker on New Classics. Based in the traditional and unceded territory of the Lenape (commonly referred to as Brooklyn), Saba's love for all things color and textiles is woven into every vest she creates. We first fell in love with her vests while perusing Instagram
, and upon learning that each vest is one of a kind and crocheted by hand (requiring anywhere from 12 to 16 hours to craft), we knew that her terrain vests would make a perfect addition to our selection of mindfully handmade
pieces. So naturally, as we're so excited to be sharing Saba's work on New Classics, we invited her to chat with us for an interview where we discuss the creative process behind her signature vests, what she's working on next, and what legacy she hopes to leave on this world.
Who is Saba McCoy?
MIDDLE PHOTO BY @JESSGLISTENING
A true Gemini - a lover of contradictions and contrast and color. A person who finds joy in the process of obsessive making, who has found her true home in the tradition and the detail and the repetition and possibilities of craft. I’m a person who finds solace in working with my hands and who is on an endless journey to be the bravest version of myself - and sometimes the bravest version of myself just wants to marathon bad tv.
Can you tell us about the first garment you’ve ever made?
Not surprisingly, my first handmade garment was a vest. When I was in high school I would rework my old clothes trying to make the armor that I thought I needed to be the version of me I saw in my mind. My first project was turning an old oversized jean jacket into a form fitting vest, it had messy seams and ragged edges and I was so proud of myself when I was done. As a teenager, it felt like so many things were out of my hands and making that vest was a moment of self-reliance that drives me to this day.
What are your favourite colours to use for your vests?
Can I say all of them? I love dressing monochromatically with a sock or accessory that’s some other (seemingly clashing) pop of color, and I want each vest to have that sense of soothing surprise.
If you had to describe your personal style in three words, what would those words be?
Vibrant, Spacious, High-contrast
What does slow fashion mean to you?
Slow fashion means creating in a way that’s respectful to the people, processes and resources that go into making clothing. It’s about considering the impact I am making on our planet and realizing that my decisions matter because they fit into a larger system that extends beyond myself.
What or who are some of the influences you draw from for the clothes you design and make?
My biggest inspiration is often nature. The patterns made by moss on the side of a rock, or ripples on a pond, or an aerial view of fields of tulips. My phone is full of really zoomed in and really zoomed out photos of the earth and the structures we’ve built on it, and I find both equally inspiring.
How do you decompress?
By breathing. By petting my sweet pup. By re-reading books that I’ve loved at different points in my life, visiting them like old friends. I also have a standing weekly craft date with two dear friends, we’re spread across the country at the moment but for those few hours the distance doesn’t matter, and it’s a bit of normalcy and friendship and love that I look forward to each week.
Can you tell us a bit about the process of making one of your vests?
I made my first vest early last summer. I had been learning a number of different fiber-based arts, and had only just started to gain more confidence with my crocheting when I saw an early aughts photo of someone wearing a bulletproof vest and I couldn’t get the image out of my head. This was in June of 2020, after Ahmaud Arbery, after Breonna Taylor, after George Floyd, and after Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland and so many more - and as a Black woman, the waves of grief and despair and anger and exhaustion were washing over me at hyperspeed and I think I clung to that bulletproof vest image, looking for some kind of protection and a will to create a soft space. Some armour that was vulnerable and full of feeling and expression and protection - this idea sparked the pattern for my first vest. Each one I’ve made since then has started from that inspiration and from a place of feeling. Each vest is one of a kind because I’m interested in the way that colors speak to me at different times, so I start each new piece by choosing a series of colors that spark some kind of emotion for me, and then from there I take a really organic approach to the color design. I don’t start out with a plan on how the design will look, but instead I try to trust my fingers and intuition, and change colors based on what feels right. It’s sometimes hit-or-miss to be honest, not every color combination ends up a winner and I’ve done my fair share of undoing as much as doing, but I’m always excited to see where each color combination will take me.
What item of clothing makes you feel most like yourself?
An oversized button-down, a crop top and high-waisted wide-legged pants. (I’ve recently been living in Liv Ryan’s O Ring jeans and I can’t imagine why I’d ever wear anything else).
What are some of your favourite ways to wear/style your vests? My go-to is pairing a vest with oversized jeans, creating a contrasting silhouette between the high pants and top. I also love to layer them over simple staples, like a button-down shirt or a tight turtleneck top or dress, adding a bit of color to a simple outfit. Do you have any new designs or ideas you’re working on at the moment that you can share with us? I’ve just started working on a new pattern for a dress (my first one!), I'm using a super-soft delicate yarn so it’s going to be a long process but I’m already excited about the possibilities! I’ve also been expanding into larger pieces that I’ve taken to thinking of as paintings (though made from yarn), and it’s been fun to expand into different shapes and sizes. What are some of your favourite photos on your camera roll right now? BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO BY @JESSGLISTENING
What is the legacy you hope to leave on this world? I hope to make the people around me feel appreciated and cared for and respected and loved.