Fashion Focus: Emma Murray, From Wethersfield to Waisted Fashion

By Kaie Quigley – Features Editor

Emma Murray models a jacket she made from old jeans and a thrifted blanket. Photo courtesy of Emma Murray.

Emma Murray, junior fashion design major with a minor in business, said her mother helped discover and fuel her passion for fashion. At a young age, Murray was infatuated with her mother’s box of scrap fabrics. She didn’t know what she was doing with them; not many five-year-olds would, but she knew she felt a connection with them.

As she transitioned into high school, Murray delved into the world of fashion design and rediscovered her relationship with scraps. She took three independent studies in fashion design, one of which taught her to sew. This is the point when Murray began hand-crafting her own garments in the attic, where her mother had helped set up a sewing studio.

By the time she graduated from Wethersfield High School in her hometown of Wethersfield, CT, she had hand-crafted both of her prom dresses and started her own brand: Waisted Fashion. She was then on her way to the School of Fashion after her mother helped her through the application process.

In her first few semesters on campus, Murray gained experience through internships with bridal companies Modern Trousseau and NOVA McLAREN, located in Woodbridge and Glastonbury, CT. She did freelance work for both companies, cutting lace and fabric for wedding dresses and learning the ins-and-outs of the process.

Murray began taking her own brand more seriously in her sophomore year, making upcycled t-shirts and patch-work crewnecks, though she didn’t originally intend to monetize her designs. “I think at first I just loved the creativity aspects… loved making new clothes for myself.”

However, once people began inquiring about her work, Murray had an epiphany. “I never thought of selling any of my garments, but then I realized, if I want to be a fashion designer one day, I better start [selling]… that’s why I minor in business.” Murray began making sales over quarantine through Etsy and Depop, and continues to sell garments through her Instagram @waisted_fashion.

Murray says much of her inspiration often comes from perusing Instagram and Pinterest. She will screenshot garments that catch her eye on Instagram and do deep dives on Pinterest, scrolling through various designs and patterns and saving them to her “virtual mood board”.

When putting new pieces together, Murray takes a spontaneous approach, contrary to more traditional methods of brainstorming, sketching, modeling, etc. Her methods speak to her personality in this aspect. “School isn’t my thing, creativity is,” she says. “I just love working on my own brand… without having rules and boundaries.”

In fact, she claims most of her projects are often a “surprise at the end,” and simply reflect the aesthetic she is fond of at the time. “Right now I’m into printing stuff… I make these carvings; it’s a block… and you can [carve] cool stamps out of it,” she says. “I just love playing around with that stuff… like stamping and then sewing it into a bag.”

 Emma Vierling, junior fashion merchandising major and Murray’s roommate, says “being [her] roommate this year and seeing it— the process she has is crazy. She’ll have this idea in her head and then decide she wants to do it… and then she’ll whip it out in like an hour and a half.” She told a story of when Murray crafted four outfits in three days in preparation for her birthday celebration.

Vierling has been modeling for Murray since they were first-years, and began modeling for Waisted Fashion this fall. “First semester, we went to the Natick mall. [Murray] worked on a ton of stuff over the summer… she took like 50 things and turned them into new [garments] so she had like a whole collection for that. And me and our friend Maggie, we both modeled that for her.” Vierling was also a model for Murray’s most recent collection.

Studio 1851, a student-run business that often collaborates with artists and designers on campus, featured Murray on their website in March as a Spotlight Artist. This recurring segment highlights a new artist in the Lasell community every month.

Catherine King, a member of the studio1851 team, said that upon reviewing Murray’s application, the team “instantly noticed how she uses thrifted and recycled materials to recreate the clothing into a whole new garment. It is as if she is giving the clothes a new life. At studio1851 we are all about being sustainable, supporting women-owned, and working with our community. Emma’s brand encapsulates all of these goals and more while being incredibly chic and stylish.”

The studio sold Murray’s Waisted Fashion garments throughout the month of March, giving her an in-store display. They also held a livestream with Murray on their Instagram @studio1851lasell. “We love what Emma brings to the table and are incredibly excited to be working with her,” said King.

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