Selective Focus: Carli Vergamini

Carli Vergamini takes old jackets and other items and re-purposes them into a wild variety of accessories. A quote on her website reads “the best fashions are fringey & up-cycling is cool.” In this week’s Selective Focus, we get an introduction to what she’s doing. It’s worth a deeper dive into her blog, where she frequently makes updates about what she’s working on, and she highlights other businesses that she admires in a series she calls “Biz Crush.”

CV: My main medium of choice is leather. Specifically, re-purposed from vintage leather jackets. It happened as a mistake — I was fresh out of college and didn’t know what I was doing with my life. All I knew is that I wanted to make stuff, but I didn’t know where to buy the materials I needed to make the stuff I wanted to make. So I did what I typically do and got resourceful. I bought the first leather coat I could find at Goodwill, took it home and cut that baby up to smithereens.

Turning a jacket sleeve into tassels
Photo by Anne Victoria Photography

To this day I still reach for the jacket over the hide nine times out of 10 (actually, more like 99 times out of 100) and have a whole closet devoted to specimens in various states of deconstruction. To this day I’ve saved a couple hundred eye sores from the fashion police (and a landfill).

Sleeves are usually the first section of the coat to be used​​

I took a leather handbag course at the London College of Fashion in 2009, but tossed the idea of working with leather or purses aside for about a year before diving back in.

These foodie key chains are a fan favorite
Photo by Anne Victoria Photography

Once I graduated from college and began the hunt for a “real job,” I started dabbling in accessories again hoping to sell them at the boutique where I was working part-time. Along the way, I realized this was a better fit for me than designing under someone else’s label in corporate America.

Adult merit badges

I’m going on 7 years of being in business and all this time I’ve hopped around the Midwest, working for some of my favorite local boutiques by day and growing my own business by night.

My most recent creation made from three leather coats and a mini skirt

Throughout this time my style, techniques, product offerings and creative voice have evolved a ton. There’s a great Ira Glass quote about one’s style evolving which sums up my journey to a T.

Wood bead necklaces

I love the creative challenge that comes from working with re-purposed materials. It sets a series of limitations that you have to work through rather than starting with a completely blank canvas and endless possibilities. Working through those challenges also leads to a greater reward. I love being able to see the progress of taking something ugly and discarded, then turning it into something that people are clamoring to get a piece of.

Teeny tassels

I’ve grown up seeing the rise of fast fashion — now it feels great to be part of a community that is trying to reverse that mindset. This brings about another challenge which is trying to do so in a non-pretentious, not-so-granola way.

Lake Superior key chain

Upcoming event:
Hygge Market at Makers Mercantile/Bailey Builds, 58th Ave. W. & Grand Ave.
March 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Facebook Event Page)

Retail outlets in Duluth:
Makers Mercantile | 5727 Grand Ave.
Pichardo Boutique | 728 E. Superior St.
Trailfitters | 600 E. Superior St.
Wonderfully Made | 2218 Mountain Shadow Drive


For a full list of stores, please visit my website (


An assortment of leather jackets waiting to be used
Photo by Anne Victoria Photography

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