Bored with that old pair of jeans in your closet? So was our latest designer, Noor Zakka. Not only was she bored of the style but she was fed up with the waste involved in the industry she had grown up to love and worked in. After working for the likes of Zac Posen and TAHARI, Noor struck out on her own with a clean, edgy and authentic collection built in denim. The brand NOORISM is about more than just acquiring a cute new piece – it’s about the story behind the process and what each design stands for. Noor tells us about her process and how she thinks about style and sustainability in denim staples re-imagined just for you.
How and why did you start designing?
I have been drawing and making clothes for as long as I can remember. Living in Aleppo, Syria until I was five years old had a big influence on me. I remember going to the seamstress with my mom to order a dress which was the only way to buy clothes in Syria at the time. Then, in second grade, I saved up all of my money to buy a toy sewing machine. I taught myself how to sew when I was in high school and starting making clothing for myself that I wasn’t allowed to buy garments such as tank tops with spaghetti straps. When I was 15, I realized that being a fashion designer was a real job, and it’s been my dream since then to start my own clothing company. After I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in NYC, I worked for Zac Posen, TAHARI ASL, and Ellen Tracy to gain industry experience before starting NOORISM.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
I take inspiration from everything around me. It can be an article in the Times about a place I’ve never heard about and would love to go to. Visiting museums, reading books, music, traveling, spending time in nature and New York City are all things that influence and inspire me. I’m also inspired by the favorite pieces in my own closet, and what I think I want to wear next.
What is your brand’s fashion philosophy?
My philosophy is that the world has enough stuff and nobody really needs another piece of clothing. I use upcycled fabrics as much as I can because there is already so much fabric and unwanted clothing that exists in the world. I think that clothing should be made to last a long time. I design pieces that are of high quality and that resemble classic silhouettes, so they can be worn for many years. In addition, the clothing and textile industry has a huge impact on the environment; so I feel that sustainability needs to be a priority. Transparency in the design and manufacturing process is extremely important. We produce everything in NYC in a clean and safe environment. I think fashion can be used as a catalyst to educate the consumer, give back, and make a positive change. Since the fashion industry is the second largest consumer and polluter of water, NOORISM donates $5 to CHARITY: WATER on every purchase.
How do you take an old pair of jeans and turn it into something new?
We find unwanted old jeans that would be otherwise be exported to developing countries and bought in bulk. We use a seam ripper and scissors to take apart these unwanted jeans by hand and press them flat for cutting and sewing. It’s a pretty time consuming process, but the end result is so worth it!
What do you think about fashion today?
I think the fashion industry is going through a positive change. The old system that doesn’t work well is being turned a little upside down. It’s becoming more democratic. There is also a lot more support for emerging designers and for producing in the U.S., than there was a few years ago.
How has your design changed over time?
My designs have evolved as I have become more aware of the importance of the environment and sustainability. I keep this in mind when choosing fabrics and creating pieces that will last a long time.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
Learn as much as you can about construction and patterns, and work for someone else first. Also, if you are going to start your own brand, really know why you are doing this. It should be a much higher purpose than just to make money.
Shop Noor’s Upcycled Denim collection for your latest sustainable denim staple.