Photo courtesy of Jay Carroll
Laura Sato was one of the super-talented people hand-crafting one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing in the Levi’s® Makers Tent during every Station to Station event. I convinced her to stop sewing for a few minutes and talk to me about her experiences on and off the Station to Station train.
VICE: Hey Laura. How'd you get hooked up with Station to Station?
Laura Sato: I work directly with Levi's®, making products for their handmade line of goods called the Levi's® Tailor Shop. We’re a part of Levi's® Makers, so I was lucky enough to be brought along as part of each show's traveling workshop in the Makers yurt.
How long were you on the train?
I made my way onto the train twice, from St. Paul to Kansas City and from Dodge City to Santa Fe. The rest of the trip I followed along with the train in rented Sprinter vans. Both times on the train were magical.
A lot of people took a break during those legs of the trip, so it was relatively empty. It was just me and some of the new friends I'd made along the way, hanging out on an amazing train listening to music, sewing, napping, and taking the occasional pickle back shot. All of this, accompanied by beautiful landscapes that I would have never seen otherwise, made for a moment that I will never forget.
Can you tell me a little more about the Levi’s® Makers?
The Makers yurt was Levi's® artistic contribution to Station to Station. Levi's® Makers is a collective of artisan's from across the country who sell their handmade goods under the label of Levi's® Makers.
For the majority of the trip, we had four other Makers along with the Levi's® Tailor Shop who had their stations set up in the yurt. Forestbound (one of a kind tote bags made of salvaged materials), Folk Fibers (hand-stitched, natural dyed quilts), Junkyard Jeans (customized chain-stitch embroidery), and Tangleblue Weavers. We also had a few guests along the way for a couple stops; Cobra Rock Boot Co.(handmade boots), Chimayo Weavers, and Teranishi (leather goods).
The yurt really gave us a platform to create and collaborate while allowing the public to observe our process and ask us questions. I’ve worked for the Levi's® Tailor Shop making handmade goods for almost three years, but when I met my fellow Makers on this trip it really hit me what a special thing I’m a part of. I got to work and become close with some of the most inspiring and talented people, all of us tied together with the common thread of loving to create and work with our hands. There was definitely a special energy inside the yurt.
What do you do for Levi's® when you aren't on a cross-country train trip?
Pretty much the same thing, minus the traveling gypsy train and live music. I sew and coordinate production for Levi's® Tailor Shop which is Levi's® in-house label for Makers. We’re a small team of four that design and produce handmade products that are available in Levi's® neighborhood stores (Levi's® Plaza, Castro, Market St., Malibu and Meatpacking) as well as abroad (Shinjuku, Paris and London).
We make a variety of products from reclaimed materials as well as new and offer small runs of unique pieces that combine functionality with a vintage aesthetic. Our workshop is in an amazing new research and development center called Eureka near Levi's® headquarters, where everything is handmade in-house by us.
What was your favorite event and why?
Barstow surprisingly ended up being my favorite event. At first we were like, “Why the hell are we stopping in Barstow?”, but as the trip went on, it became the destination we were the most excited for. I think it's everyone's instinct to be drawn towards the excitement and energy of the cities, but as the trip naturally moved away from them I think we all began to see the magic in the more rural parts of America.
This festival really came to life in at the outdoor locations. It felt especially fitting to have the desert as a backdrop. Barstow may not be the most amazing or exciting city, but when you find yourself at an old drive-in movie theater in the middle of the desert listening to Beck with the most beautiful choir backing him, with the sun is setting and the Santa Ana winds blowing, you realize that is what it's all about. Also, they flew a UFO over the crowd later in the night, which was pretty sweet too.
Everybody keeps talking about the UFO. It sounded amazing. Thanks Laura!
To check out the rest of the collaborations and contributors, go to http://levi.com/makeourmark