Creative Fashions Highlight the Value of our Waterways

The Finger Lakes are sprinkled throughout central New York and aquatic species are an inherent part of our ecosystem even though we don’t live next to the ocean. Ithaca is at the tip of Cayuga Lake, one of the larger Fingerlakes. Cayuga Lake is full of wonder and mystery at first glance, especially since the deep blue color  limits how deep we can see inside.

Whether we know or don’t know what exactly is in these FingerLakes, there is a strong appreciation of their existence in this region. Yesterday while on an airplane, an Ithaca resident was expressing how beautiful the lakes looked even though it was not her first time seeing them. She explained how Seneca Lake was the largest and was surrounded by vineyards. She explained that Cayuga Lake was the second largest, had fewer vineyards, and could be appreciated at Steward Park. She conveyed an emotional value and connection to Ithaca in relation to the Finger Lakes that were landmarks of her “home.”

We can see how a body of water can be valuable to residents as an extended representation of the self through “home.” Even though these Finger Lakes may not have exotic sea animals that can enhance their perceived value, they are significant geographical features that identify Central New York and Ithaca to many. Harm to the Finger Lakes through pollution, extinction of existing species, or degradation would be strongly opposed.

Why then is it okay to harm other valuable bodies of water? All water sources are valuable, whether  it is to people, or the species that live within it.

An emerging designer, Faizan Dar, strives to convey the significance of preserving the health of our water by conveying the “surrealistic beauty of marine species.” In his fashion collection “Denizens of the Deep,” he “unveils the mystery, fluidity, and complexity of life underwater through colors, surface textures, and silhouettes. Hand-dyed fabrics set the stage for layers of complex patterns illuminating various elements of marine life.”

Textile sample inspired by ___ - Faizan Dar
Hand-dyed fabric by Faizan Dar

Faizan was specifically inspired by the scales, textures, and silhouette of Placoid (Sharks and rays) and Cosmoid (lungfishes) to name a few species. He provides a distinct perspective of sea life by using vibrant colors rather than expected tints and shades of blue. He mimics the complexity of the sea with the complicated motifs that represent the scales. His overlapping, and repeating surface designs convey that everything is interconnected like an ecosystem, everything works together to perpetuate harmony. Additionally, his use of silks and velvets represent the fluid movements of sea animals as they travel throughout the sea. 

"Denizens of the Deep" collection by Faizan Dar 2013
“Denizens of the Deep” collection by Faizan Dar 2013

Each garment is unique with its own character and personality. The value that Faizan has added through hand-dyeing and stamping has enhanced how treasurable they are. Even though these garments are brand new, they carry  history in how they were produced – with love, care, and thought. Explanations of his extensive design process from the research conducted about sea animals, experimentation with different stencils/ dyes to create fabric samples, pattern drafting process, sewing, and fitting are all valid in fostering emotional attachment from the designer and consumer standpoint.

Although Faizan did not use sustainable materials, I would consider this collection sustainable because of the environmental message it communicates. Using sustainable materials like organic cotton or lyocell is a simple approach to sustainable design. A more complicated approach is to take a distinct stance regarding an environmental issue and appeal through creativity and novelty.

Faizan has chosen to focus on the beauty of sea life to prevent further extinction of aquatic species and water pollution. “Denizens of the Deep” is significant because he has brought attention to these issues in a unique way. Through his fashion collection, he will appeal to many who may have never considered what is actually inside of the deep ocean and why it is important to limit our impact on bodies of water.

One way that we can limit our impact is to stop using plastic bags. Plastic never decomposes in the ocean. Sea animals consume the plastic by mistaking it for prey and coral reefs can suffocate if they are surrounded by a bag. Coral reefs have developed one of the most biodiverse ecosystems throughout several centuries. Human induced water pollution, including plastic bags, should not be able to extinguish any species. Eliminating the use of plastic bags can help promote more biodiversity in the ocean, and it is one way we as consumers can make a difference.

Just as the Finger Lakes symbolize “home” for many residents in Central New York, bodies of water throughout the world have equitable value whether it is for people or a natural self-regulating ecosystem that indirectly contributes to our well-being.

If you would like to contact Faizan Dar please email:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann Savageau says:

    Wonderful reflection on the beautify and value of our waterways, Helen, and a lovely tribute to a talented young designer!

    1. Helen Trejo says:

      Thanks Ann! You inspired me!

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