Sid Neigum has a somewhat exceptional conception of fashion today. For this young Canadian-born designer, the creative process is everything, where he relies on math and science to bring coherence, symmetry and satisfaction to his work. With extensive interests not limited to fashion, Neigum finds synergies with other artistic fields such as music, and likes exploring further disciplines like car design and many more that are sure to come.
In other interviews you have explained how fascinated you were when seeing your grandmother sew garments without even making a pattern. Was it her influence that led you to study and dedicate yourself to fashion?
My grandmother planted the seed of inspiration. Growing up, I was very interested in creating and building things. I had an obsession with Lego and Knex, and later on with playing the guitar and piano. Fashion is a nice blend of a highly creative and artistic discipline like music, with technical engineering-type challenges. That is why I’m so drawn to it.
You spent your youth playing in punk and metal bands. How has music influenced your designs? Does it have the same impact on your work nowadays?
Creating an album and creating a collection are quite similar. In both cases you’re building a story, bringing multiple ideas together to make a cohesive finished work. The concept is the same just the medium is different; one visual, one auditory.
You are really into math and science, leaning on the so-called golden ratio to make your designs, in your own words they are “cohesive, satisfying and symmetrical.” Is it a rule you always stick to or have you ever challenged it?
It’s a set proportion that creates cohesion and ties my work together. I like having a constraint to reference, there’s a great quote by Igor Stravinsky, “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”
Could you take us through your creative process step by step?
Usually it starts with a concept for a piece or group of pieces, for example in my new collection this is how the tension blouse was created: the early concept for the piece was based on a suspension bridge. A main suspension cable with multiple suspender cables spanning from the main. I draft the pattern with the idea to have brass rod as the dividing line coming across the body. Each panel of the stretch knit is drafted to create tension on the vertical line. Early prototypes showed that the brass was too heavy, and corsetry boning was too structured.
In its final form the vertical line is a stretch grosgrain ribbon which allows it to conform to the body and gives it versatility by being able to adjust the amount of gathers on the panels and position to support the bust. “Tension is the great integrity” is a quote atrributed to Buckminster Fuller.
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Your methodology feels quite unique. Are there or have there been other designers who work this way? Who are your references?
I’m very process-driven and I love pattern making. A lot of architects, artists, and designers through history have used golden ratio in their work, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dalí, and Le Corbusier. It's not talked about as much in fashion, even though the human body follows this ratio quite closely. Try this experiment at home, measure your height in centimetres, from the floor to the top of your head (A), then measure from the floor to your belly button (B), (A) divided by (B) should be very close to the golden ratio aka Phi (1.618…) see how close you are! You can also divide your height (A) by the golden ratio to find (B).
One last one to try: outstretch your arm, measure from your shoulder to your fingertips, call this measurement X, divide X by the golden ratio and you will find your elbow to fingertip measurement (call this measurement Y). Now divide Y by the golden ratio and you will find your wrist to fingertip measurement (call this measurement Z). Now divide Z by the golden ratio and you will find your knuckle to fingertip measurement. This pattern continues as you go down each joint. I find this a pretty compelling reason to use this ratio in clothing, being that it is so ingrained in our bodies.
One could say you are more interested in the construction of the garments per se. Is it the form or the function for you?
I’m much more interested in the construction of a garment but, ultimately, I agree with architect Louis Sullivan that “form follows function.” Another 'constraint' if you can call it that, is that it has to be worn/wearable otherwise it can’t be considered clothing. I think sculpting a three-dimensional garment out of a two-dimensional fabric is one of the most exciting and interesting parts of making clothing.
What is the message you want to put out in the world through your designs?
I hope to inspire and be inspired.
Where did you get the inspiration for the gorgeous shapes, lines and pleats from your Pre-Fall 2021 collection?
There was a lot of experimenting and trial and error. In the initial creation phase, there are ten to twenty 'bad' pieces for every good piece. I like rapidly testing and making prototypes, and seeing what works and what doesn’t. At the end of each day, I bring all of the experimental prototypes home and do fittings with my girlfriend Chloe Gordon, who happens to be the designer for Beaufille. From here on, I can make edits and new iterations the next day and repeat the process.
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I feel like your designs have become more feminine overall. Why is that?
Perhaps I am becoming softer. The female form is the canvas, after all.
Let’s talk about fabrics. In your first pre-fall outing, you presented a suit made of recycled plastic bottles. How do you innovate when it comes to materials?
I’m always searching for the most innovative new fabrics. Recently we launched a bag that comes in a sustainable skin option produced by using the fibres derived from the industrial processing of apples. It looks and feels like leather, and is much better for the environment.
What does sustainability mean to you? How do you pursue it?
Leaving the world in a better place than you found it. A key way I pursue sustainability is by being carbon neutral. Here’s how you and/or your company can be carbon neutral too. Step one, calculate your carbon footprint (Google carbon footprint calculator). Step two, find a company that does 'carbon offsets,' preferably by direct air capture (DAC). Step three, buy the carbon offsets to cover your carbon usage.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far? Is there someone you are especially grateful to?
It has been the continual process of surviving as a business and the ability to be doing what I love every day. I’m very grateful to my family and friends for their support, and customers for believing in what I do!
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Who would you like to see wearing your clothes that hasn’t yet?
I’d love to dress Bella Hadid, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Alice Pagani, there are probably too many to list. I love seeing all the different people wearing my pieces on Instagram, famous or not!
Could you share with us what are your plans for Sid Neigum the fashion brand? What’s coming next?
My immediate plans are working on our next collection. I think you can expect to see newness with pleating, lots of cutout knits, more bags, maybe shoes in 2021 as well. Stay tuned!
How is the current fashion scene in Canada and how has it evolved in the last decades?
There are a lot of great Canadian brands. The industry is small here but everything is digital now, so it’s easy to work with people in New York and Italy as we produce a collection. Canada still has several fashion manufacturing factories, although I’m told there were a lot more prior to everything going overseas. I do a lot of our sampling and production in-house and we intend to keep it that way.
Your passion for design goes beyond fashion. You have partnered with Pfaff to create cars – a Porsche 911, a Targa, a BMW, and an Audi Q7. Are there other disciplines or creative areas you would like to explore or master?
Yes! I would love to do a collaboration on furniture and homewares, like dishes, plates, and cutlery.
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