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Fashion Design student Sarah Seb puts her exploration of second-hand clothing on display at Graduate Fashion Week

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Iranian-born Sarah is expected to be a star at Graduate Fashion Week

By Lee Pinkerton

The annual Graduate Fashion Week (GFW) is the highlight of the year for students in the UK studying fashion. This year, University of East London (UEL) Fashion Design student Sarah Seb has reason to be especially excited, as she has been chosen by GFW staff as one of a select group of students to “keep an eye on” during the event, which runs from 3-6 June.

Sarah, 25 was born in Iran but grew up in Gloucester before moving to London to study at UEL. She is passionate about making use of discarded material and her collection explores the process of reconstruction in second-hand clothing.  

Sarah says, “Featuring vintage clothing to create an original piece is a way of preserving and giving life to history. There are so many beautifully crafted, wonderful old garments out there with their own history and story, which are yearning to be bought and used so they can continue their tale. Old clothes should not be seen as rubbish but as a canvas for each individual’s self-expression.”

The fast-moving fashion industry and ecology are not natural bedfellows, but for Sarah her ecological concerns run throughout her work. Her method of recycling/re-purposing clothes avoids the production of new materials and helps to lower the impact of waste caused by the fashion industry on the environment.

She said, “It is vital that the already accumulated waste is dealt with instead of using more resources and causing damage in the name of fashion. There needs to be an alternative to the amount of consumption and I believe my approach is the alternative. 

“My approach is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary. The production process is waste-free, sweat shop free and chemical-free and the making process uses zero water and very little energy, as the whole collection is totally made by hand.”

Sustainable fashion has been a subject close to Sarah’s heart for many years now. 

She said, “The process of reconstruction of second hand clothing is an approach I have taken on for as long as I can remember. It started out as pencil cases and cushion covers. Back then sustainability wasn’t the big focus in what I did, I did it because I simply enjoyed it. I loved the feeling of not throwing my special top away and even more loved the feeling of not leaving it in the back of the wardrobe because it was stained or too small for me. 

“The realisation of the problems with all this waste is something that came much later on. Over time my eyes opened to the consequences that consumption and trends bring, making me question my choices and the choices of those around me.”

Sarah said she realises that her own personal values may be in opposition to those of the industry that she hopes to become a part of, but hopes that she can change things. 
She said, “The rise of fast fashion has led to a huge increase in the accumulation of waste and environmental damage, as well as putting lives at risk due to its cheap labour practices.

“Sustainability is an extremely complicated subject, but if we all try and make a little difference in our personal lives every day, then change is bound to happen within society.

“Fashion and sustainability can go hand in hand if we buy less, choose well and make it last.”