Second-year university student Hugo Tippett would have been 19 next week. For his birthday he asked his parents for a sewing machine.
Originally from Vancouver, Tippett passed away tragically in an accident at McGill University in October. And when it came time for his family to ask themselves how they could honour his legacy, it came back to the sewing machine.
"Even in the short time he was with us, he was extremely accomplished," Hugo's father, Michael Tippett, tells V.I.A over the phone. Hugo was an athlete, photographer, and digital portrait artist who was beloved in Vancouver and Montreal. His celebration of life held at his favourite pub in Montreal had over 300 attendees and the one in Vancouver had close to 500.
While at university, Hugo developed an interest in clothing design and used the vintage sewing machine his parents sent him as an early birthday present to make a pair of pants.
The same pants are being used as a template to memorialize the young man, materially.
"All his friends were asking him if he could make them a pair," explains Micheal Tippett. Hugo was learning to use software to design his own patterns and had plans to make jackets and other garments. Using the pants pattern he made, the Tippett family is helping him to realize his design dreams.
Using the website Hugo had designed to sell his digital portraits of famous faces and with the help of some friends in the fashion industry, people can now pre-order Hugo's Pants. The pants will be manufactured soon and delivered around January-February.
The grey pants are unisex and have stretch so all people need to select is their waist size.
All proceeds will be donated to a charitable organization that has yet to be determined by the family but Micheal Tippett says that it will be one that makes sense to honour Hugo.
“For me personally, the benefit of all of this is that his friends will be walking around Vancouver or Montreal, or wherever they might be, and see each other in the pants and know that they knew Hugo,” he says.
The staff member assigned to support students at McGill told the family that they have never seen a student have this level of impact ever before. "The number of people who called his office was unprecedented," says Tippett.
"It’s been really amazing seeing the community come together to support us and offer such a tribute to him."