"I don't give a shit about fashion," says Gavin Derek. It's just as well. Gavin is a product stylist for a range of local companies, including Unionbay, Eddie Bauer, and Tommy Bahama. (Side note: It is my own observation that Tommy Bahama's design aesthetic is the equivalent of an aging businessman in a hotel room—alone and pantless, eating a cold hamburger.) In catalog shoots, Gavin's work follows the art director, who strategically compiles an assortment of clothing or envisions a mood. Gavin's job is to shape these garments for the camera, and, like all tasks in the realms of marketing, to imbue the product with meaning.

To showcase the full color runs of a style, the standard layout is a column of folded garments. It's orderly and linear, and probably this "makes people feel comfortable." Regardless of a textile's flimsiness, "most companies want their clothes to appear lush and thick, like a stack of bathrobes." So Gavin builds the desired loft by carefully layering the fabric with tissue paper, sometimes furniture batting. The look is "a lie," he says—though it's far less demented than the one food stylists tell, what with their motor oil, glycerin, and hair spray. For a display of men's collared shirts, he might saw the ends off clothes hangers if the span appears sharp, or use stuffing to avoid a hopelessly wilted look. "Everything I do is sculpting," he says. "Textiles are another form of clay."

Flat spreads are tricky: Overshaping creates a phantom figure, which is immediately ridiculous. Undershaping brings a messy heap of clothes, shifting one's focus to the empty space where a living being ought to be, as though she suddenly had been vacuumed away by something horrible. Gavin splits the difference, using trillions of pins to animate the apparel—forming jaunty kinks at the knees of jeans, fluttering a ruffled skirt. The outfits take on a human quality, seeming so nonchalant and companionable, even aggressively whimsical at times, with subtle gestures resembling a close friend's (but a friend you secretly loathe, because she is always in such a great mood).

In creating the women's body shapes, Gavin says, "I won't give the garments a size zero waist," and the curves stay appropriate and graceful all the same. The world of fashion consumerism has long been sending us unpleasant messages, and Gavin refuses to participate in any heartbreaking scenes, like when someone "puts on this thing she's bought, and she sees herself as fat, and she actually feels worse about herself but won't return the item, because now she's ashamed by the thought that she might've looked beautiful in it." recommended

Attention, makers of fashion and workers of garmentry: Tell me what you're doing at mjonjak@thestranger.com.