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Front row with Maryam Agherdien of A fashion students archive

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

I have repeatedly professed that Fashion students, graduates & nascent Gen Z designers are integral to the succession of the South African fashion industry. And my next interviewee, the ever-so-talented Maryam Agherdien of 'A fashion students archive', is a profound example as to why.

Primarily using deadstock & repurposing it into innovative silhouettes – this third year student provides such a breathtaking perspective on how to integrate sustainability into ready-to-wear & streetwear.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

I first stumbled across A fashion students archive on social media a few months ago, astonished at the sheer ingenious of the overall silhouettes, materials, techniques & innovations used on up-cycling textile waste. Upon further investigation, I noticed that this brand is actually pretty popular in Cape Town amongst the very trendy Gen Zers who frequent the streets of the city. I also really enjoyed the brands earlier work in the S/S collection 1, with items including stitched tops, panel tops, halter & tie-up tops and denim corsets.

And I don't think they've looked back ever since.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

Now A fashion student archives catalogue dabbles in menswear too, containing a nice balance of womenswear items such as their dresses – all items made with a wonderful usage of fabric and merging of textures and materials. I think their more recent collection can be viewed as high-end streetwear influenced by hiking gear silhouettes & functionalities, exploring more nuanced techniques (like fabric slashing) and using more advanced materials.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

So, I had the honour of virtually engaging Maryam in order to understand more about her inspirations behind A fashion students archive, the most recent collection ‘trial and era’, according to her what it means to be an ethical designer, and much more.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

Would you mind introducing yourself and including a short description of what you do?

Maryam: My name is Maryam Agherdien and I’m a fashion student. I’ve concentrated my work on up-cycling and creative use of textile waste.

Where did the inspiration to form 'A Fashion Students Archive' come about?

Maryam: 'A fashion students archive', formally known as 'A fashion students closet', was created at the beginning of lockdown and it was "inspired" by my need to just create. My first year of fashion studies coincided with lockdown, which resulted in an extremely slow, unusual & challenging learning experience. I felt the need for a more explorative and personal creative outlet. Everything else just grew from there.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

According to you – what does it mean to be an 'ethical designer'?

Maryam: To be an ethical designer is to be someone who is considerate. Everything trails back to the intention behind what one does, and if there is pure intention and consideration (of the world & others) – your work will most certainly be ethical.

I am obsessed with how you use deadstock. I think your repurposing skills are phenomenal and I am even obsessed with your dresses. What inspires your decisions with regards to materials and silhouettes?

Maryam: Thank you so much! My decisions regarding silhouette and fabric choice are quite complicated. While most designers begin their design process with silhouettes & fabric choices, mine begins with (quite often) a bag of offcuts. The unusual beginning of my design process leads me to experiment and play around a lot. I don’t believe it’s really a decision but more of an exploration and intuitive feeling. I enjoy this process very much and create silhouettes I’m intrigued by, or would love to see myself in.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

What are you most inspired by when it comes to your design process?

Maryam: I’m not sure if this would be considered an inspiration, but my main consideration is always the best use of offcuts in my design process. Making the best use of "waste" is very important to me. The following consideration definitely has to do with aesthetics and this is inspired by various things – it’s not something that can be pinpointed (unless you were to go through my many sporadic notes haha).

Photography by @paparazzo_est17

As a final year fashion student – please tell me a bit more about your final year collection. How was the experience of putting it together?

Maryam: This year is in fact not my final year, I have decided to continue my studies, however I do believe this year has set a good foundation for the coming final year of my studies. My most recent collection, named ‘trial and era’ has been an exploration of myself as a designer – the techniques I would like to focus my skills on and what I would like to pursue as my niche within my career.

What are some of the things you are looking forward to in 2023?

Maryam: I'm looking forward to building connections with those who have similar intent within the industry. I look forward to collaborating and creating with intention and love, and lastly I look forward to completing my studies and fully focusing on my brand and craft.

Photography by @paparazzo_est17


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