A New Take on an Old Fabric, Noor Zakka
Noor Zakka founded NOORISM in 2015 after being disheartened by the volume of poorly-made, practically disposable clothes produced by the Fashion industry every year. NOORISM is an upcycle brand focused on taking apart jeans and using the pieces to create new items of clothing and accessories. NOORISM clothing and accessories are all unique and slightly different since each old pair of jeans has its own individual story to tell.
How did your career in fashion start?
I've wanted to be a designer and study fashion in NYC since I was about 15. After completing my bachelors I went into the industry and worked for several big labels. But while I was there I came to realise that I was part of this system that produced just so much waste. The products that we were creating were just designed to go on sale at Macy's, not even for the full retail price but on sale - there's all this mark up money set aside to do this. After this I left the industry and then tried to re-invent myself; read a lot of books, we full circle, and decided I wanted to start my own business, and given that fashion was the business I knew best I went back into it. However, I had become very interested in sustainability, so with NOORISM, it allowed me to get back into the industry but with a focus on sustainability - so fashion with a positive impact.
Why is it important for you to be sustainable?
The fashion industry is the 2nd largest consumer and polluter of water in the world, and there is just so much product being made each year. So there's a lot to improve!
It's also a huge problem that a lot of recycled clothing gets exported to developing countries. Because it's done at such large scale that it impacts the economy of those countries - they get flooded with so much of these cheap clothes from America.
Or a lot of clothing ends up in land fills, or doesn't get recycled, or doesn't go to vintage stores.
What is you design process?
It's a lot about using denim, deconstructing it and making into something completely new. There's so much waste in the production process that this is a great route to sustainability - in fact I've actually had my production scraps turned into fabrics to create new garments with.
Why the focus on denim?
Because when I started I wanted to do sustainable fashion, so I started researching fabric and mills but it was hard to source fabric. For example, you would have to buy a minimum of 50 yards otherwise the supply wasn't guaranteed after getting samples. It was also super expensive, so it made sense from a business perspective to go to Goodwill and buy up a load of denim garments.
This supply process made it uniquely creative and interesting enough for people to take notice in a very saturated market. Also, because the entire process of de- and re-construction is so hard, it's quite difficult to emulate.
How would you define the NOORISM customer?
She is a woman who appreciates fashion, quality, and wants something that's timeless and will last in her closet for a long time. But also cares about where and why it was made, appreciates the story, loves denim, likes vintage, care about the environment.