Designer Selina Sanders’s upcycled fashion label began somewhat accidentally. About a year ago, the Altadena, California–based artist came across a random hashtag from influencer and YouTuber Beth Jones, #alwaysplaydressup, encouraging people to dress up (if only for themselves). As Sanders perused the hashtag, she saw a bunch of creators not only posting amazing outfits, but also creating things for themselves to wear. Inspired, she made her first shirt. “I had a bunch of floral tea towels, so I took one with a beautiful Bermuda flower on it, and paired it with a vintage quilt from the ’90s,” she says of her creation.
Jones ended up re-posting Sanders’s top to her thousands of followers, and Sanders instantly gained a fan base for her work—despite only having made the one top. She knew she was onto something. A year later, the designer specializes in turning tea towels, quilts, and table runners into puff-sleeve tops, button-up shirts, and sun dresses. Her pieces get snatched up quick by one of her 43,000 Instagram followers.
Having grown up in Laoag City in the Philippines, Sanders is no stranger to making something new out of the old. Her mom was a designer, and she always remembers her making things out of the most unlikeliest fabrics. “My grandparents would come back to the house, and often all of their curtains and bedsheets would be gone,” she says. She fondly recalls visiting thrift stores or RagHouses and scouring for striking fabric together with her mom. “RagHouses gather donations from across the world,” says Sanders. “They’re in warehouses, and it’s organized by every single category you can imagine—vintage band tees, denim, collegiate jackets. We always looked for textiles that had a sense of heritage.”
She went on to work in the fashion industry for the past 15 years, including at St. John, BCBG, and Target. While she learned the ropes of the industry, she realized working for a large company was not her true passion. “I saw the dark side of what fashion has really become, in terms of the consumption of fashion and mass-market scales,” says Sanders. She knew she wanted her work to be more sustainably-minded, and her new line allows her to give forgotten fabrics a new life. “I love creating something that uplifts its original intention,” she says.