Billie Eilish purchases work of Albuquerque artist for world tour

ABQ artist transforms discarded garments into elevated, recycled pieces

Fashion designer Doug Wiggins works on creating wearable art using recycled materials inside his workshop at his home in Albuquerque. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

On a daily basis, Doug Wiggins aims to express his true self.

At first glance, it’s through the tattoos that adorn his body.

If one looks closer, Wiggins’ personality is shown in true form through the clothes he wears.

Billie Eilish wears a design from Doug Wiggins that features Marilyn Monroe’s image. (Courtesy of Doug Wiggins)

Often second-hand or recycled, the clothing adds to his dynamic.

It’s no wonder that Wiggins’ profile in the fashion industry is rising – and he’s doing it all out of his Albuquerque home.

“I’ve done it all through social media,” Wiggins says. “When I first moved to Albuquerque, I met up with a group of people who were a collective. They started letting me do shows with them. I started doing pop-up events and getting my name out there.”

Wiggins focuses on recycled fashion and will add his flair with screen printing on the fabric.

“The fashion industry is like the No. 3 contributor to all of the world’s wastes,” he says. “Nowadays, fast fashion is crazy. I hate it. I think taking a step back and realizing what you are wearing and how it was made is important. I try to keep my waste lower by reusing items and creating something new.”

He’s done so well that his aesthetic caught the eye of Billie Eilish, who purchased items for her world tour.

“I think that the fact that being able to get big artists like Billie Eilish, for example, to be wearing a used shirt that I made her, it shows other people that it’s cool, not only cool to wear this stuff, but you can do it too,” he says. “I get a lot of haters online saying that they could make those clothes too. I always post, ‘Yes, you can do it too.’ That’s the point. You don’t have to get brand new materials or buy brand new things in order to have a sense of style or be able to express yourself.”

Wiggins is no stranger to art. As a fourth generation artist, he is the son of Roswell-based artist Kim Douglas Wiggins, and grew up with art all around him. His sister Rebekah Wiggins is an actor/producer/director in the film industry.

In 2017, he took a break from school at the University of New Mexico and moved up to Colorado to work on a farm.

Eighty hours a week started to wear on him after two years.

“That made me decide that I wanted to pursue something that I had a passion for,” he says. “I realized that the way I dress and my clothing was the way that I expressed myself. Having to wear a uniform every day made me realized that art and fashion is something I wanted to pursue.”

Fashion designer Doug Wiggins sews pieces of fabric to create a piece of wearable art. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

With money in his pocket to pay for school again, he transferred to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

“UNM didn’t have a fashion program,” he says with a smile. “I got my degree in fashion.”

In 2019, he began his business, simply called, Done by Doug.

Wiggins worked on creating fashion every day since opening the fashion line.

Within the last six months, he’s seen a huge spike in his popularity on social media.

“I think the fact that you can make a statement with fashion, it’s art that allows you to express and convey a message to people who necessarily didn’t go outside to be told something,” he says. “They get to experience something that they might not have been able to experience.”

Billie Eilish wears one of the designs of Doug Wiggins, who is from Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Doug Wiggins)

Through fashion, Wiggins is also able to spark conversations.

“I think fashion in general is a way to get people to have an opinion about something, even if the subject matter doesn’t appeal to them,” he says. “My work often lives in the area of speaking out against acts of violence or the social injustices in our society. It’s important to make a social commentary on that and get people talking, regardless if they like my work or not. It’s meant to be a conduit.”

As his work is becoming more visible, Wiggins is taking it all in stride and remains humble, because starting a fashion line was just a dream a handful of years ago.

“Being able to connect with people is so amazing,” he says. “At first, I was making clothes and selling them in the hopes that people would like them and want to wear them. Now it’s like, people have a connection to them and me. I’ve been able to build a personal connection with those who pay attention to what I do. Within those comments, I get a lot of encouragement. Bigger artists are hitting me up and stuff, but it’s comments from people who have a connection to the clothes that impacts me. This all brings me a sense of joy.”

Through his work, Wiggins also makes time to give back to the community.

He works with groups to host pop-up shows and canned food drives.

“I find the time to help make these things happen,” he says. “It’s important to keep creating that community and pushing it forward. I want to inspire people. I’m from a small town and pushing to do my own thing. It’s amazing to see the trajectory so far.”

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