At 18 years old, Dasie (Hadassah) Fisher of Teaneck has already started a career in fashion design. She makes her own clothes, which she sells on Instagram, and is headed toward more advanced studies, possibly at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where has already taken courses.
She makes clothing by using a very practical source of material—used goods. She’s not the only one; this is a growing trend in fashion production. Upcycling, making new clothes from discarded ones, is a term often used interchangeably with recycling, but it is not the same. Your old T-shirt becomes part of a new creation in Dasie’s hands. She finds material in Goodwill bins and other places that take donated clothing.
A notice on the Teaneck shuls listserv brought Dasie to my attention. She posted that she was looking for clothing discards for her fashion creations. “I got the idea (to post) in quarantine,” she said in a phone interview. “Fabric is pricey to buy, and I thought maybe people have old clothes and fabrics that they don’t want or were going to throw out, and I could make something new. I also want to help the environment by being sustainable.”
Sustainable is a word now being used in just about every industry and it means different things. At its heart, sustainability is about more efficient use of resources, leaving as little waste as possible.
In the fashion industry, where much fabric is wasted in the process of clothing production, sustainability includes reusing scraps from a production line, and turning something old into something new. The dress Jill Biden wore at her husband’s State of the Union address was upcycled. It was made to use as a sample to fit her inauguration gown. Instead of tossing it, Biden requested that it be saved to be used for another occasion.
Dasie said she has been interested in fashion since childhood. She learned to sew, and continues to learn, from classes and videos on YouTube. Her parents bought her a sewing machine and a mannequin. “They are very supportive,” said Fisher. “They want me to become a designer and have my own brand.”
She is very inspired by retro looks. She loves 1960s and 1970s clothing, particularly bell bottom jeans and wavy prints and swirls, which she is seeing now in current fashion lines. “I like designing dresses, and also everyday clothes—shirts and skirts,” she said. She likes the designs of Alexander McQueen and Iris Van Herpen. “I like work that tells stories,” she said. “When you look at McQueen’s work, you can see the story behind it.”
Dasie’s mother, Shelley Fisher, said in a separate phone interview that as Dasie became serious about her sewing business, they bought her a new machine capable of producing more advanced stitches. “I am amazed at the way she takes an ordinary piece of clothing or material and turns it into something completely different and fashionable,” said the proud mother. “She is a talented artist and she has been able to channel her skills to the area of fashion design.” Mrs. Fisher is also proud of her daughter’s concern for society. “I am glad that Dasie is using her passion in a way that benefits the environment.”
Dasie is taking a little break from fashion for a summer program in Israel. She is in the process of choosing among colleges with a strong fashion design program to enroll in when she returns. View her collection on Instagram @thehadassahshop. And if you’d like to donate your no-longer-loved clothing to be turned into the latest fashion, give Dasie a call.
By Bracha Schwartz