Starting out as a project for one of her Iovine and Young Academy classes, freshman Kyla Wyllie’s colorful photo collage depicting her friends around Los Angeles caught the attention of the Converse X creative team. Her project, which utilized unconventional materials such as nail polish, was Wyllie’s first step into a maintained collaboration with the brand.
Looking for environmentally conscious creatives in the L.A. area, Converse reached out to Wyllie after seeing some of her artistic work on social media. After a series of back-and-forth Instagram direct messages, Wyllie was invited to fly out to Boston, Converse’s innovation space, alongside two other L.A.-based creatives, to collaborate with designers on “Renew,” the brand’s new sustainability campaign.
In Boston, Wyllie said she was paired with a professional designer to create two upcycled outfits out of scrap fabric to complement a photo shoot for Converse’s new line of reconstructed shoes. She worked with her designer to decide on a material, style and blueprint for what they wanted to create.
“The whole thing is about innovation, so it’s about taking old ideas and building upon those, making them new and disruptive and sustainable in a competitive industry,” Wyllie said. “I noticed a lot of things that connected between what Converse is implementing now into their company and what IYA was trying to teach us to implement into the different industries that we go into.”
Wyllie said she also enjoyed being able to integrate her own style and persona into her work. Wyllie’s designs included references to the magazine she runs, “Pure Nowhere,” and to her friends at USC through screen-printed images.
Because of the independence the artists were given with their designs, Wyllie said she was also able to admire the differing styles of the other creatives.
“The other two people, their designs were so distinctly themselves,” Wyllie said. “We got to do whatever we wanted within the resources that they had.”
Brianna Mims, a Kaufman School of Dance alumna who was also invited to Boston for the Converse campaign, said she appreciated the versatility and uniqueness of each artists’ work. Working alongside Wyllie and the third L.A.-based artist, Mario Duvernay, Mims said she was able to witness the power and influence of art media outside her own areas of interest.
“[Working with the other artists] was nice, especially because they come from different backgrounds in terms of what their art form is,” Mims said. “So that was really interesting and kind of what the whole collaboration with Converse is about.”
Although fashion design isn’t exactly where Wyllie wants to head in her career, she said it’s a big interest of hers because it easily encapsulates the creativity she greatly values.
“You get to know somebody and you see what they’re wearing and it’s a good opportunity to project your inner self to the outer world,” Wyllie said.
According to Wyllie, projecting her inner self also means practicing and upholding a value for sustainability efforts that work against fast fashion and mass production. Although it might not be exactly how she brands herself and her work, she said being environmentally conscious is always on her mind.
“I try to bring [sustainability] into everything that I do just because I feel like it’s best to live your life consciously and know how you’re affecting others and how you’re affecting yourself in the future,” Wyllie said.
Through her work with her magazine, Wyllie said she does her best to print her physical issues with completely recyclable paper and ink. Additionally, her own wardrobe consists predominantly of upcycled and restored clothes, which she said she prefers anyway because it allows for more personal character and creativity.
In addition to sustainability efforts, Wyllie said much of her intention in her creative process revolves around making spaces for her fellow creatives to work together and thrive. Wyllie often looks toward her friends and local peers for collaborations and support when working on her artistic productions.
Shantanu Jhaveri, a freshman in IYA and majoring in computer science, worked alongside Wyllie during one of her recent projects, an interactive art experience titled “Heaven on Earth.” Jhaveri said working with Wyllie and others on the project increased both his exposure and experience.
“It really opened the door for us, which is really great,” Jhaveri said. “Kyla is always focused on how to help local artists or the teen gig kind of grow, which is really cool.”
Wyllie said that with her new collaboration with Converse, she hopes to not only propose her own ideas for events and execute them but get her friends involved in similar opportunities as well.
“I think that’s the best thing about working with Kyla: She doesn’t only care about her events and her products, but she cares about the people that she’s working with,” Jhaveri said. “She makes it a fact to be a friend with all of them.”