Representing the creative future

The Swedish School of Textiles 2021: Alternative approaches and zero waste solutions

Discover the collections and read the thoughts of the SST Class of 2021

From environmentally-friendly boutique brands to the newly born, to the new edition of Vogue the nordic fashion ethos is by now intertwined with the notion of sustainability. A conscious spirit in fashion does source from education and the Swedish School of Textiles aims for its students to look towards a better future. Founded in 1866 and with an incredibly rich history of textile research, SST has a record of giving birth to designers that think carefully not only how they create clothes, but also where these clothes are going to be in 40 years’ time. This year’s class struggled with loneliness, frustration, and nerves during their degree, but were ultimately rewarded with relief, excitement, and self-growth. And, not to forget, collections that act as pathways to their future work as designers.

As much as we all despise the Covid-talk by now, it is important to mention that almost two years into this crisis, students are still very much affected. Universities may have protocols in place, studios and machinery included, but it goes beyond the borders of our alma maters. It is what happens after graduation that has to be focused on. Because of that, supporting graduates is crucial. It’s about celebrating their achievements without brushing aside their hardships.

Often, hard times surge one’s creativity and unconsciously push someone to think outside the box. And that definitely rings true when looking at the SST graduates’ degree collections. From a material as common and seemingly simple as paper to a fully thought out hoarding cat lady persona, inspiration can truly come from anywhere. While the students may look towards the future in terms of garment production, the historical references ranging from the renaissance to the industrialisation during Victorian times are where the past comes into play.

The 2021 graduates can only be described as emerging talents that have been gifted not only with remarkable creativity, but also an almost natural sense for sustainability. We spoke to all the designers and let them speak about their work in their own words.


Matilda Sundkler

“My collection ‘Nuno Garments’ is an attempt at proposing a different creation process of garments. It all started with reports stating that huge amounts of Swedish wool are being buried or burnt up as a waste product of the Swedish meat industry. My idea was exploring shrinkage as a concept for creating form within the field of one-piece garment construction. All the pieces featured in the collection are shrunken into their form from a single solid piece of cloth. Of course, the degree itself has been super challenging and shaped me massively as a person –  times a 100 during the degree work. I don’t think I have fully processed it yet, to be honest, but I know that it’s a real privilege to have the chance of doing this kind of education. What I found hard, at times, was the fashion school environment. There is a certain work culture that is kept going by both professors and students. It’s acceptable to work all night and ‘get mad’, and I don’t really agree with that kind of approach. Currently, I’m doing a master’s degree, and my plans are to continue working with shrinkage, looking at how this concept could relate to production. There are so many sustainable ways to create garments that pose a challenge or are not even considered in production. I think it would be really cool to take ‘Nuno Garments’ all the way like that”

“[In fashion education] it’s acceptable to work all night and ‘get mad’, and I don’t really agree with that kind of approach.” – Matilda Sundkler

Matilda Sundkler's collection shot by Daniela Ferro

“It feels important to take a step back and look at everything as a whole. And, perhaps, also look away and see new possibilities.” – Ann-Maj Risgaard

Ann-Maj Risgaard

“My collection of body objects discovers the emotion of hopelessness through the physical sensation of gravity. My work investigates a concept of femininity by exploring the emotions evoked in me when reading about the myth of Pandora. How she is used in academic reports such as Diseases of Women to legitimise discriminating arguments directed towards a female identity. My exploration of hopelessness is workshop based and the outcome situates this project in a participatory-driven field where somatic experiences make it possible to discuss sensitive topics such as hopelessness and gender equality. The result of my project is sensorial body objects that suggest design possibilities that trigger emotions. Ideally, it should be presented as a participatory installation as part of an exhibition. For me, the degree was mainly about practicing how to prioritise: It seems like such an important and difficult skill to master finding peace and space to be creative. A truly enjoyable part of my BA project was inviting other people to join workshops and to see them engage with my sketches of objects and, in the end, talking about the experiences together. I have taken a break from my MA to reflect on the knowledge I’ve gained during the BA. Right now, it feels important to take a step back and look at everything as a whole. And, perhaps, also look away and see new possibilities.”

Hanna Linnéa Ryd

“Entitled ‘Grandmother of Cats – Dressed drunk’, my collection originates from a muse I created to represent the value of discarded material as a persona. This crazy cat lady-like muse compulsively hoards and stacks every possible item in her house and values her low-status materials or single-use items as much as her high-status jewelry box. This understanding that every material has some sort of value that one can enhance and add to through re-contextualization, repetition or manipulation is key within this work. I came up with an upcycling design tool where two method cards are picked like in a card game to create a new hybrid garment. That way, any waste material or non-textile object – represented by a game card – is fashionably re-contextualised creating a new wearable piece supporting a more sustainable approach to material sourcing. The five looks in my collection are the result of using the cards and every single hybrid piece aims to lift a serious cause with a touch of humor and, therefore, make the subject of overconsump­tion more accessible. Working with the degree collection was both exciting and terrifying. Terrifying in the sense of realising the full scale of our overconsumption as a society. Exciting because the ‘waste’  really sparked my imagination and creativity. Another enjoyable obstacle, if you will, was working alone in my bedroom. Sleeping with my designs made them into my only colleagues and friends during the degree-period. As of right now I am starting up a re-make/upcycling design studio and brand with my partner Bella Simmons. We want to integrate peoples’ own sentimental value into the design process to turn favourite pieces into wearables.”

Sisse Bjerre

“The foundation of my work is the fascination with paper. It is all about exploring the potential that lies within paper and its many expressions and properties. In the design process, or more specifically, in dress-making, paper is a traditional staple material. During the development of my collection, I realised that the aesthetics of a work-in-progress is what I want the final expression of it all to be. The aim is to challenge general expectations, including my own, of what a finished garment really is. We only had about two months to complete our degree collections, so there was definitely a lot of time pressure, but we were lucky to be able to be on campus. To be honest, I am still reflecting on everything, especially the traditions and cultures that are part of the fashion school experience. All in all, I am really happy I made it through it, learning so much along the way. I’m going to do a master’s degree in fashion design at SST. My plan is to further explore alternative ways of creating dress and translating paper expressions into more wearable pieces.”

Sisse Bjerre shot by Daniela Ferro
Sisse Bjerre sketchbook

“I believe it’s better to stand on firm ground before one is swept away by the inertia of being a recent graduate with a lot of momentum.” – Malin Müllerström

Malin Müllerström

“My collection, ‘Check Me’, aims to recontextualize easily discarded salvage craft techniques and transform them into a contemporary method for zero waste construction. In the book Novel Craft (2011), Schaffer writes about the works of women and how “[…] domestic handicraft spoke to specific Victorian issues, especially the way the handicraft offered an alternative to emergent industrial and consumer capitalism […]”. The issues that arose during the industrialisation have, as we know, only intensified, and we now need to find ways of dealing with them. By constructing garments with patchwork and hand crochet granny squares, I have found a versatile method that can easily be used to do some stash busting of that daunting fabric/yarn collection as well as a method for designers to eliminate waste completely. Once I had the frame of my work nailed down, I could play around with the technique myself. Although the pressure of finishing my BA was ever-present, I found the techniques I had chosen to be a calming anchoring point in my work. The thoughts and feelings I experienced while crocheting created an intangible value, stitch-for-stitch, which adds up to more than a single garment. Starting a brand of my own straight away is very appealing, however, I believe it’s better to stand on firm ground before one is swept away by the inertia of being a recent graduate with a lot of momentum. I have had my long-awaited time to rest after the intense years of fashion school and now I am ready to look for jobs (If you are reading this Dame Vivienne Westwood, look me up!).”

Malin Müllerström shot by Rebecka Bjurmell

Mikaela Mårtensson

“My collection is about the investigation of the handicrafts of knitting and crochet, focussing on diagonal construction. I have made design decisions based on my research around renaissance fashion and paintings. Ultimately, it is about highlighting an ‘older’ or more historical way of creating garments, while simultaneously pushing the expression possible with knitwear and showing the potential that lies within the craft. In hindsight, I have to say that I had a difficult time finding out what my work was really about. How much should I listen to myself? How much should I listen to my supervisors? Due to Covid-19, my entire degree happened in my small flat. I spent a lot of time crocheting and knitting while watching reality TV, which I really enjoyed. Nevertheless, it was lonely, and I missed the interaction with my classmates. In the future, I want to figure out how to work best, focussing on handicraft and slow fashion. Currently, I am in the midst of creating a collection that will be available for sale.”

“I had a difficult time finding out what my work was really about. How much should I listen to myself? How much should I listen to my supervisors? ” – Mikaela Mårtensson

Mikaela Mårtensson shot by Daniela Ferro

Jonatan Aalto Steneberg (Graduating in November 2021)

“My collection investigates how different types of materials can blend together rather than clash – the meeting of knits made on domestic knitting machines and transfer printed woven garments. As an example, a pinstripe knit would be matched with a transfer print pinstripe. Tweaking and experimenting with materials to make them more interesting is key to me, such as creating a knit myself and then scanning it to turn it into an independently existing print. You get all these unknown materials that I then drape onto the body where they meet other materials, different arrangements, and cut-outs. The degree itself was challenging for me, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about my own expression. I love having full control of colours, structures and materials, so working in an abstract manner rather than having an archetypal garment as a starting point is what works best for me. I will graduate in November, since I needed a little more time and, of course, Covid made it difficult (even though school provided safe and organised schedules to use the machines). After presenting my collection, I will take a good look at it from my own perspective again. What do I like? What is missing? The overall plan is to start my own brand, working with knit and print.”

Hanna Sundberg

“The collection is about upcycling outdoor wear with a low environmental impact technique. I’m using both sublimation print and screen print, though I wanted to work with pigment Inkjet machines but couldn’t due to Covid restrictions. The work addresses the issue that outdoor wear tends to be discarded and replaced by new and improved products quite fast, so I have chosen to upcycle the pieces in pursuit to give the clothes a second chance. The prints are based on historical garments that were used for backpacking when the activity was first established in the early 20th century, which happen to be very closely related to the British countryside fashion used today. The degree work is an emotional roller coaster for sure. One day you love it and the next day you don’t see the point in the work at all. It was definitely a challenge to work with print since that was a completely new terrain for me. My expertise is actually construction and tailoring, and this collection has almost no sewing involved at all. I love working with color and it has been fun exploring different printing techniques. Working with function wear is always enjoyable to me due to the problem-solving aspect… Someday I’d love to start my own company, making outdoor wear specialized for archery which is my true big passion. But for now, I want to start working for an outdoor company, preferably with a comprehensive sustainability focus, to really get to know the industry.”

Hanna Sundberg shot by Jessica Larsson

Kristine Boström

“As I was searching for new design methods, I came up with the idea of prints having a function rather than being purely decorative. Creating a bridge between draping and printing by letting the print guide the shaping and vice versa. That way, the development of the shaping method had two starting points. In addition to that, the collection also explores novel ideas such as the clashing of the fields of zero-waste thinking and printing. My process starts with squares that are manipulated and shaped into various silhouettes through the two starting points I have mentioned before. The print is sliced keeping the excess material on the outside, while the drape consists of the unprinted areas which otherwise would be discarded. For me, my MA degree work was both fun and challenging. Even though it was my second-degree work, it brought all kinds of emotions and thoughts with it. ‘Is this good enough? Is this the best thing I’ve done? This is terrible! How can I make it better?’ All in all, I think I found a fun and interesting concept that continuously generates new ideas. Right now, I am at the beginning of starting my own brand to continue the development of this work’s concept and approach, because I feel there is so much more to explore.”

Kristine Bostrom shot by Daniela Ferro

Josefine Neumann

“My degree work ‘A Seat at the Table’ is investigating nostalgia and the social as well as environmentally sustainable aspects of upcycling. Through storytelling, I aimed to explore nostalgia as a progressive design tool by upcycling materials and memories. I used creative writing methods with trigger words to translate them into a visual fashion design process, gaining understanding and depth in the storytelling through different memory triggers. For instance, with the theme of ’the act of eating’, this degree work abstractly comments on the fashion industry’s influence on bodies and eating habits. It suggests a multidimensional take on nostalgia and highlights its importance in everyday life as well as in the design and art field. Additionally, my collection also looks at communication in dress and the relationship between the private and public identity. My goal is to look beyond today’s upcycling field within fashion to not only develop it further but also broaden the perspectives of the field. My focus during the bachelor’s degree has been to gradually place my work within the context of other creative fields, like music and film. Within that, I would like to present more sustainable alternatives to current practices. It has been probably the fastest and most educating three years of my life. Whether you want it or not, studying art and design can sometimes feel like going to therapy. Even though I feel incredibly proud of who I have become, what I have accomplished and plan to realise, it is also an extremely wearisome process. My degree work has been both a practical and academic process as well as a very personal one. Honestly, I feel confused and frustrated, but luckily that motivates me to get my message across. I’ve just started my MA at The Swedish School of Textiles through which I want to continue developing the upcycling field.”

Lærke Dramshøj

“The traditional recycling practice of “destroying” is inevitable in order to create something new. My research focuses on fostering new zero-waste recycling and garment re-construction methods without the use of a scissor. The methods applied to investigate how to create a new form while allowing a reconstructed garment to be reversed back to its original state. Within the eight-look collection, there are 26 transformable garments. The collection’s overall expression is the interplay and clash between the most traditional types of prints – animal, camouflage, check, stripes, dot, floral and geometric patterns – by juxtaposing them.  All the materials are classified as ‘unwanted second-hand’, highlighting the massive problem of printed fast fashion and sportswear being seen as something disposable, consequently leading to more waste and landfills. The last two years have included life-changing experiences that I will always treasure. I have learned and grown as a person and designer. I enjoyed the unique friendships you built working with your classmates, working 24/7 side by side. What was really hard was the critique you put on yourself, changing everything last minute. Never being satisfied, but then having that “EUREKA” moment. Nothing beats that. My plans are to work in the field of recycling and sustainability, helping to shape a better fashion industry. I have been asked to start my own brand, using the one-into-two and two-into-three garments solution as a new business model on a small scale. It could serve as an alternative to the traditional mass production and profit-oriented approach. Besides that, I have the opportunity to show my degree collection at Exposé 2030, the Swedish national platform for sustainability. Hopefully, that will open some doors for me.”

“The traditional recycling practice of “destroying” is inevitable in order to create something new.” – Lærke Dramshøj


Laerke Dramshoe shot by Rebecka Bjurmell

“It is very important to have fun throughout the whole process and not to lose myself or my joy creating in between all the stress, requirements, and deadlines. ” – Elin Meijer

Elin Meijer

“My MA graduate collection is called ‘XTREME MAKEOVER’ and is completely hand-made out of upcycled/pre-owned materials. The motive behind the work lies in the importance of finding and presenting sustainable ways of working with fashion with a focus on aesthetics, shape, techniques, contexts, and materials meeting. Today, countless designers are working with upcycling; however, there are many ways that have not been explored yet. All materials are considered and treated equally, whether it is plastic trash or crystals, textiles or non-textiles. I see potential in everything. The whole collection is made without using any machines. Similar to materials, techniques are not seen as something that is intended for a specific purpose. The motto is that everything can be made out of anything. The used materials are mainly from second-hand stores or discarded objects from friends and family. Bread baskets, chandeliers, rubber bands, plastic kids beads, broken nylon stockings, safety pins, party decorations, and broken jewelry would all be examples. Overall, I’ve had a great time studying. To me, it is very important to have fun throughout the whole process and not to lose myself or my joy creating in between all the stress, requirements, and deadlines. What I enjoyed the most was material sourcing and playing around with materials until an interesting new expression was found. When our school had to close temporarily due to Covid, the hardest part of lockdown was not the lack of access to equipment, machines, etc. in school. It was not being surrounded by other creatives. Currently, I’m doing some costume design and planning on starting my own brand, continuing to work with upcycling and decorative materials.”

Elin Meijer by Daniela Ferro