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TAFE NSW student sews the way to sustainable fashion

TAFE NSW Macquarie Fields

TAFE NSW student sews the way to sustainable fashion

A TAFE NSW fashion student is championing sustainability in the fashion industry by sewing new life into pre-worn denim.

As part of the Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology course, TAFE NSW Macquarie Fields student Maria Salvadori is repurposing pairs of old jeans and has created a wardrobe of clothing from skirts and dresses, to tops and even overalls.

TAFE NSW is equipping students with important skills as the fashion industry progresses into more sustainable practices. The average Australian is buying 27 kilograms of new clothing and textiles each year and discarding more than 85 per cent of this to landfill, making the country the second largest consumer of textiles in the world.[1]

Maria is part of an evolution of designers who are challenging the way the world thinks about second-hand clothing and sustainability in the fashion industry.

“For as little as $2.50, I have transformed one pair of jeans into three pieces of clothing that would otherwise have gone in landfill,” Maria said.

Maria’s two daughters wear some of her designs and other pieces of clothing she makes will be offered to local charity shops to sell to the public.

“The designs are funky and have a vintage feel. Like most things in the fashion cycle, what’s old is new again,” Maria said.

“Having an opportunity to get practical skills and experience and to make a change and help the environment while studying at TAFE NSW, has been really rewarding for me.”

Maria studied fashion at TAFE NSW in 1993 and has returned to broaden her skill set and get a job in the fashion industry.

Learning to sew at the age of 12, Maria always had an eye for creativity and is now combining that passion in a sustainable and eco-friendly way that is also turning heads. She even wore one of her denim designs to her 50th Birthday party.

“My daughters wear my designs all the time and they always get compliments about how unique their clothes are.”

TAFE NSW Head Teacher in Fashion, Fiona Lloyd, said the Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design & Technology gives students creativity in the design process that will lead to more autonomy over their designs once they move into the Diploma of Fashion Design & Merchandising.

“The Certificate III in Applied Fashion Design and Technology offers students an introduction to the exciting world of fashion which will challenge them to reconsider the way they think about the design process,” she said.

“Students learn hands-on skills like how to design, construct a garment, patternmaking, fabric identification as well as an introduction to computer aided design.”

Maria’s work will be displayed at the TAFE NSW end of year design exhibition on 3 December, which will showcase the best work from western Sydney-based creative design and fashion students.

To enrol or enquire about the Fashion Courses offered at TAFE NSW, visit or call 131 601.

Media contact: Jessica Cortis, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner, 0456 170 211