INTERVIEW // PLUSHIE SHAWTY
January 30th, 2021 // Interviewer: Shane Allen // Art
Step into the colorful world of Plushie Shawty. Iliana Martin is a designer and creator of Plushy Shawty,, a garment line that is constructed completely of repurposed plushies. Making a masks, hoodies, and shirts, she's found a way to combine her love for plushie dolls as well her love for design.
All one of ones, her pieces bring a unique take on the clothing wearing experience. You're guaranteed to stand out while wearing Plushie Shawty. All of the pieces are quite literally busting out of the seems with character, all which can be tailor made to whatever you're into.
Iliana isn't just printing graphic t-shirts, every piece is hand made, putting hours and hours into assembling each piece. Its like a completed puzzle, finding the right pieces to fit in the right place. Each hoodie she makes, take around 100 hours completing You can tell love and joy are sewn into each one.
Can you explain the apparel that you make?
The garments and creations I make largely surround stuffed animals, which I view as a medium- but I am not limited to just plushies. I have worked with many different mediums and am always experimenting in order to extend my knowledge of medium and how different ones define my style. If my work had a theme, I guess it would have a lot to do with childhood fragility and innocence, and giving it a more ominous twist.
Did you just run out of fabric one day?
I’ve never actually bought fabric before, my process mainly involves reconstructing or building on top of something already made. This is simply because I’ve never owned a sewing machine (until now, as a Christmas present, so expect ~from scratch~ garments soon) and building something from scratch wasn’t important to the final product for me.
I start with a plain ski mask before sewing all my plushies on. I started getting into stuffed animals when, for a school project about a specific artist (Nick Cave), I chose to make a stuffed animal ski mask. It went viral on twitter overnight and I thought, I could make money off this and it was also really fun- I had never sewed a day in my life before I made that ski mask. And then Plushie Shawty was born. (lol)
Do you have a deep love for plushies? Does it hurt inside cutting them up?
I have a deep love for plushies and I always have- my collection as a kid was definitely a little insane. But it has never hurt me inside cutting them up because to me, I’m not killing them or setting them on fire, I’m repurposing them and giving them a new life.
Why do you enjoy making clothes? Because I imagine making one piece of your is a very tedious process compared to most other clothes, how good does it feel after you complete something?
I love making garments and sewing. Most of the fun for me is seeing the finished product- I’ve only made two stuffed animal hoodies because the process is so tedious. Each one took me months to make and over a hundred stuffed animals- all hand sewn. So yea, i had blisters on my fingers. But it was all worth it when I saw the finished product.
What were some of your favorite plushies you had growing up? Why are they your favorites?
I had too many plushies to count growing up but there was one i still have to this day- my grandmother gave it to my mom when i was born at the hospital. It’s a cute little baby cow with a bell around its neck and big feet. I named it Cowy and brought it absolutely everywhere with me until i was around 7 and became a big kid in my mind and it wasn’t cool to carry him anymore, But I've kept him and he means an awful lot to me.
Can you tell me about the line you're dropping/dropped?
My last collection i dropped was mostly just carebear masks and a conjoined teddy head backpack. I am very excited for this year, as i am changing a lot about what i put out. That was probably the last mask drop- but bigger things are coming. I am planning on dropping collections consisting of pillows and blankets, furniture, rugs, bags, and high quality handmade plushies, of course all plushie related.
( which i am way more excited about than masks)
How do you want people to feel when they wear your clothes?
Everything I make varies so i couldn't say one specific word- i guess i would say i want them to feel safe, because that’s what stuffed animals are made for. I repurpose them so you can be comforted and feel safe too.
Do you do any design outside of the plushie stuff? What are you in to?
Yes, I do many different types of work since focusing on just one medium doesn’t really cut it for me. I’ve always been into mixed media and experimentation. I would say the other main thing I do are pen drawings- I simultaneously drop prints too, along with the other items I make. I really enjoy seeing what my style looks like across all mediums and for this reason I’ll neve stop experimenting.
Who do you look up to? Any fashion idols/style icons?
I look up to many different artists, musicians, makers and friends, i couldn’t possibly list them all. Old movies really inspire me, an honorable mention is Holy Mountain. Some artists that I’m into right now are Olafur Eliasson, Hyon Gyon, and Nick Cave’s sound suits. I’ve also been very inspired by nature lately, specifically exotic animals, forests, sinkholes, i mean nature is so fascinating she will forever be my top inspiration.
What’s the best place to find your material? Is it like an Easter egg hunt for you?
Since the pandemic I've had to order all my plushies, which has been an absolute pain and much more expensive, but I’ve also found some sick vintage ones i definitely couldn’t have found if not online. Before that (and am easing back into it now) I've thrifted all of them
What do you enjoy more, shopping for plushies or sewing them together?
that s honestly a hard question- I think sewing them together and ultimately making something new is the best part for me, although i love the process of adopting plushies