Representing the creative future

Work in Progress: Freja Seihine

Swedish School of Textiles fashion design student Freja Seihine on creating fully sustainable puffer jackets

In her penultimate year studying Fashion Design at Swedish School of Textiles, Freja Seihine is working hard on her last few projects with the institution in order to prepare for the highly competitive job market young designers face. Heading into the final countdown of her degree, Freja is embracing her refined love for sustainable fashion. In one of her most recent projects, a collaboration with Peak Performance, Freja explored ways the classic puffer jacket style could be altered to create different expressions, prohibiting the need to buy items in excess when they can simply be reformed. We spoke to her and asked about her environmentally conscious process and how it is like to study fashion from home.

What is your background in fashion education and how did this lead you to the Swedish School of Textiles (SST)?

When I started looking into studying fashion design, I mainly looked at schools in London. Back then, I had the mindset that London was the only place where I could find good fashion schools. It was on my foundation year studying Fashion Design at Marangoni that I realised I had picked the right path for me and was determined to continue studying fashion, this time with a more open mind towards institutions outside of London, particularly SST. What made me so interested in SST was their incredible labs and resource availability, something I had not seen in many institutions before. I also liked that the school is very invested in sustainability and encourages students to always think about it when designing.

How has SST helped you develop as a fashion creator? 

I value the fact that SST has made me feel comfortable talking about my work with others. We often give each other constructive criticism, which is very helpful, as giving and receiving critique really helps to reflect upon your own work and to develop as a designer. It also makes you more confident, which is very important when working in the fashion industry.

“My idea was to explore a changeable quilt design by making a harness that when tied on the jacket, creating a unique 3D surface.” – Freja Seihine

One of your more recent projects included puffer jackets. Could you explain the inspiration behind this project? 

The project was a collaboration with Peak Performance, and it was focusing on reinventing the puffer jacket in a sustainable way. I was mostly interested in the 3D puffer surface blocks we often associate with the jacket and how different quilting designs can bring different expressions to the piece. My idea was to explore a changeable quilt design by making a harness that when tied on the jacket, created a unique 3D surface. I explored sustainability through reusing clothing, aiming to decrease consumption levels. During the fruition of this project, I was greatly inspired by the work of Michaela Stark, likening the natural curves of the body to the quilt design of my jacket.

I started the project with experiments, using different objects to see what shapes come out of a puffy material. After rough sketching, I looked at all my experiments and decided what I wanted to take further. I then continued to make sketches and a toile. Once finished with this, I tried different ways of draping the straps to find the exact form I wanted for the finished garment, before finally choosing materials and colours.

How did you source your materials for this project? 

I decided to work with functional outdoor fabrics for the jacket, however, it was difficult to find different colours in this material, so I had to change the tones of the jacket to one that was easier to source. The rest of the materials were actually quite easy to find. SST has a lot of materials that students are able to choose from, as well as a lot of second-hand stores in the surrounding area that had what I needed for the embellishment I used on the harness.

How did Covid-19 affect the design process or the way you approached your project?

While Covid-19 has affected other projects of mine, for this specific one I wasn’t dependent on machines that I couldn’t get hold of from home, such as a weaving or a knitting machine. However, the one thing that the pandemic did affect was my mentality when approaching this project, as I had to work from home. There’s a different atmosphere in school, bigger rooms and you are surrounded by your classmates. I think it’s important to have a place to go where I can rest my mind from schoolwork. When working from home it becomes difficult to take a break from work.

“The main concern I have is that there are more fashion designers looking for work than there are jobs. ” – Freja Seihine

What is the biggest difficulty you faced and how do you feel you overcame it in the process of this project?

What I found most difficult, which I have not yet overcome but I’ve become better at, is to be more structured when working in order to minimise stress, rest my mind and think about other things that don’t have to do with my project. I can be all over the place when working, one minute I know what I’m doing and the next I have no clue where my work is going. I have been more successful in the projects where I’ve tried to be more structured so it’s something I have to keep working on.

Do you feel it may be difficult to get into the job market when you finish your studies? 

The job market is different for each person as each individual is talented in a unique way. Having said that, I am a little scared to enter the market because the competition is very high. There are so many talented Fashion Design graduates all around the world fighting for the same spots so there is always strong competition. The main concern I have is that there are more fashion designers looking for work than there are jobs. However, if I keep working hard and believe in myself I will end up where I want to be.

What kind of future do you want to have in the industry?

I would love to work as part of a smaller design team for a high fashion brand where I’m allowed to work creatively and experimentally. The most important thing for me is to feel comfortable at work, valued for my design knowledge. Eventually, I would like to start my own brand. I’d love to show a collection at Stockholm Fashion Week one day.

“The fashion industry is fast-paced, therefore there is an expectation to create at a quicker speed which can be very stressful at times.” – Freja Seihine

What’s one thing you like and one thing you dislike about the fashion industry?

One thing I like about the industry is the open-mindedness of people in the industry. I feel that fashion has a bad reputation for being rude and a bit snobbish, so before I started studying I was a little nervous. However, I have never personally experienced this and have really connected with people studying my degree or something similar. One thing I don’t particularly like is the pressure the industry puts on designers and the lack of understanding surrounding how this affects our mental health. The fashion industry is fast-paced, therefore there is an expectation to create at a quicker speed which can be very stressful at times. It also bothers me as this rhythm of designing causes increased levels of consumption which creates a sustainability problem, something I tapped into on this project.