Noor Bchara – Founder Upcycle Design School – upcycledesignschool.com (Photo credit: Michael Cooper @mcoopercreative)
For years, the fashion industry insisted that upcycling would never be able to scale to the level of volume & profitability. And then along came climate change, irresponsible landfill overages, a global pandemic and sustainable-focused brands like Eileen Fisher, Reformation, Patagonia and Mara Hoffman. Brands like Alexander McQueen and Eckhaus Latta had experimented with upcycling for years, while other ethics-focused companies began using deadstock fabrics. By the end of 2019, sustainable design began trickling down to even more brands like Prabal Gurung, Tanya Taylor, Jonathan Cohen, Gabriela Hearst, Marine Serre, Coach, Collina Strada, PH5, Stella McCartney, Miu Miu, John Galliano for Maison Margiela and Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga.
But the real challenge our industry faces is how to educate aspiring designers on the importance of designing sustainably. And that is where Noor comes in.
Noor Bchara is a New York based fashion designer, sustainability consultant & educator. She is the founder of Upcycle Design School where she offers on-demand video classes specializing in the scalability of upcycling and repurposing. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and Polimoda in Florence, Italy.
Noor got her start in fashion by interning at Marc Jacobs and has since designed for Zac Posen, Tahari, Ellen Tracy and Kate Spade. In 2015, she founded NOORISM, after being disheartened by the volume of poorly-made, practically disposable clothes produced every year by the fashion industry.
NOORISM is a Brooklyn based women’s wear brand that produces clothing and accessories using repurposed jeans, all made in New York. Her mission is to inspire and educate people on upcycling and repurposed design and how to do it on a bigger scale.
Noorism by Noor Bchara (Photo credit: Michael Cooper @mcoopercreative)
Noor is a former Venture Fellow at the Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator, a Pratt initiative, as well as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is also an Alumni of the Arts Envoy Program where she travels through the U.S. Embassy and teaches about upcycling in other countries. She is a frequent guest lecturer at fashion industry events, as well as at major art and fashion colleges around the world.
We are proud and honored to announce that Noor has generously offered to share her knowledge about sustainable fashion design and upcycling with University of Fashion. As a UoF subscriber, you will have full access to these three lessons:
Introduction to Sustainable Fashion Design
Sustainable Materials for Fashion Design
Designing, Producing & Marketing a Sustainable Collection
Fun fact: Noor was a student in the late 1990s of our founder Francesca Sterlacci, while at the Fashion Institute of Technology. We are all very proud of Noor and her accomplishments, especially as a pioneer of fashion sustainability.
From left, Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Harris, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden on stage together, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Photo Credit: AP)
Saturday, November 7th was an historical day in the United States. Not only did the country elect former Vice President Joe Biden to be our 46th President, but we also elected our first female, first Black and first South Asian Veep, Kamala Harris.
President-elect Joe Biden, delivered a message of hope, unity and possibility, during his victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe wore a navy suit and light blue tie, assuring that he will be a president who, in his own words, “seeks not to divide but to unify.” He told the crowd of supporters, “Let us be the nation we know we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed. There’s never anything we’ve tried we’ve not been able to do.”
Kam & Joe rocking pantsuits and Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks. (Credit: People Instagram)
HERE COMES THE FASHION
Although this blogpost will mainly focus on Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris, we thought we’d provide a teaser on Joe Biden’s sartorial choices (stay tuned for our next post on Biden Style in depth).
According to L.A. bespoke tailor Fresh (tailor to music icon, Weekend and other celebs), when asked about the difference between a Trump suit (Brioni, $3,000 loose and oversized) and Biden’s suits (Delaware’s Wright & Simon custom made ($795) and Hickey Freeman’s ($1500) Rich Fresh said, “The first thing to look at is the shoulder. Biden’s suit sits right on the shoulder, which allows the chest to sit right, the sleeve to fall beautifully. Biden’s pant break sits right at the top of his shoe. Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.” Oh, and speaking of socks…let’s not forget Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks and his cool pocket squares! The new men’s trend?
DR. JILL STYLE
Harris was not the only one who made a bold sartorial statement that night. Our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, chose a chic navy floral vine dress with an asymmetric hemline, created by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the designer duo behind the Oscar de la Renta label. Dr. Jill paired her dress with coral kitten heels, minimal jewelry, and the accessory of 2020, a simple face mask. On Instagram, the Oscar de la Renta company posted a picture of the first couple-elect to their 4.8 million followers. “Today we congratulate our President-elect Joe Biden and the [future] first lady Jill Biden.”
President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
In an interview with WWD, Oscar de la Renta’s chief executive officer Alex Bolen said, “We’ve been fans of Dr. Jill Biden’s for many years and have had the privilege of working with her in the past. Oscar adored the opportunity to work with accomplished women, finding role models such as [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, Mrs. [Laura] Bush and Dr. Biden particularly inspiring.”
“Like Oscar, Laura [Kim] and Fernando [Garcia] relish the challenge of helping women lead their lives — especially if those lives take place on the world stage — with a tremendous sense of confidence,“ said Bolen. He also congratulated the Bidens’ and Senator Harris, on behalf of the design duo, himself and his wife Eliza, the company’s executive vice president. “We wish them every success.”
The late Oscar de la Renta, who passed away in 2014, dressed many first ladies (from both parties) in his lifetime, from Laura Bush to Hillary Clinton.
Designers are betting that the first lady-elect will help rev-up the American fashion industry, when she steps out and onto the international stage. Rumors are already circulating as to ‘who’ will she choose to wear for the inauguration ceremony? And those of us in the industry know how much of a BIG DEAL that is for the lucky designer!
Like her husband, Dr. Biden is known to support local shops. She asks about prices and considers her purchases in her home city of Wilmington, Delaware. But like many first ladies before her, Dr. Biden’s style decisions have begun to change (her Oscar de la Renta dress was a hefty $5,690). Mostly known for choosing classic looks from smaller, contemporary labels, within the past few months she has shifted to wearing powerhouse designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell.
Organizations like the National Retail Federation are also optimistic about the future under the Biden administration. According to WWD, the group issued a statement on Saturday, congratulating Biden and Harris and pledging to work with the new administration: “As the largest private-sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory,” said National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.
“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have shown their resilience and adaptability and will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers, the communities we serve, and the 52 million working Americans supported by the retail industry as we enter a busy holiday season,” he added.
OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY’S SIGNATURE LOOK
Dr. Jill will be unlike any other first lady before her. For the first time in U.S. history, this first lady will hold a job outside of the White House and will continue her work as an English professor at Northern Virginia community college.
Jill Biden wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and matching mask for the final presidential debate. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
While President-elect Joe Biden talks about bringing the country back together in unity, his wife Jill’s sartorial choices back up that rhetoric. Her fashion choices reflect a softer, gentle tone that has been missing from the White House. Unlike Melania Trump who is known for wearing austere, minimalistic, utilitarian fashions (who can ever forget her “I really don’t care, do you”? jacket and the Alexander McQueen army green military suit she wore to the Republican National Convention)? Dr. Jill dresses at the opposite end of the spectrum, as she prefers feminine silhouettes, bold patterns, and rich, deep jewel tones. The one thing she does share with Melania is a love of statement heels. Dr. Jill has rocked Valentino heels and Stuart Weitzman ‘Vote’ knee-high boots — but unlike Melania, Dr. Jill has worn them for state events, not for humanitarian relief efforts.
Also, unlike Melania Trump and Michelle Obama before her, Dr. Jill’s sartorial looks have been low key and much more representative of how American women actually dress. The incoming first lady’s aesthetic has been understated, elegant, and at times preppy. She tends to favor flattering shift dresses and wrap dresses in bold hues, and with just a quick change of her shoes, these looks are perfect transition pieces for a day in the classroom to an evening at a political event for her husband.
Jill Biden wearing Alexandra Posen’s VOTE mask while campaigning in Texas. (Photo Credit: AP)Only time will tell if Dr. Biden will continue playing it safe with her fashion choices once she is in the White House and whether Kamala will stick to wearing only suits, but one thing is for sure, American designers are lining up. Young designers especially are hoping that they’ll be given a chance to shine just as Michelle Obama did for so many during the 8 years she was in the White House. We are all hoping that both Dr. Jill will Kamala will throw their muscle behind sustainable brands. Something tells us they will. Keep your eye on this space.
We thought it would be fun to make some sartorial recommendations for Dr. Jill:
A look from Rodarte’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Rodarte)
A look from Lila Rose’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Lela Rose)
A look from Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Carolina Herrera)
A look from Ulla Johnson’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Ulla Johnson)
A look from Thakoon’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Thakoon)
A look from Brock Collection’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Brock Collection)
A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)
A look from Nili Lotan’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Nili Lotan)
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also took the stage on November 7th, and emphasized the promise of America in her speech. She wore an ivory-colored Carolina Herrera pantsuit and a silk bow blouse accessorized with an American flag lapel pin. Kamala, known as Momala by her step children, spoke positively about what the future may hold and encouraged children to imagine themselves in ways that others might not yet recognize as achievable. The VP-elect also credited all of the women who went before her, “I stand on their shoulders,” she said of those who fought for voting rights at the beginning of the 20th century, and of the “new generation” that had exercised those rights last week.
The color white has long been associated with the women’s suffrage movement, adopted as a symbol of moral purity alongside green for hope and purple for dignity. The hue also signified their ethos of nonviolence, an olive branch to those threatened by their then-radical calls for political equality.
While the ivory Carolina Herrera suit that Kamala Harris wore to address the nation on November 7th was one of her best sartorial choices to date, we are secretly hoping that Harris will take a more fashionable approach. As the first female to ever hold such an important role, it has to be hard for her when making fashion choices. That’s why the Power Suit is the safest way to go! Or is it?
On the campaign trail, Harris stuck to her uniform of polished pantsuits and her favorite accessory – pearls, but while the traditional attire for female politicians can be a bit bland (think Hillary and her pantsuits), we would love to see Harris take a bolder approach to power dressing.
The VP-elect hails from California, so her laid back sensibility comes through in her sartorial choices. When the Senator stepped off a plane to assess the damages of the wildfires in Fresno, California, she wore a simple olive jacket, jeans, a white t-shirt and Timberland boots – American women everywhere connected to her, because this is how American women dress!
Kamala Harris’s love of Converse sneakers. (Photo Credit: Elle)
Kamala’s sartorial choices so far have revolved around Converse sneakers and have gained plenty of traction with younger voters. For Harris, fashion does not define who she is, its her fearless approach to politics and policies that define her.
To help get Kamala out of her pantsuit rut, we are suggesting a few day looks from the spring 2021 collections that we think would look fabulous on her:
A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers)
A look from Michael Kors’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Kors)
A look from Gabriela Hearst’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst)
A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)
A look from St. John’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of St. John)
A look from Adam Lippes’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Adam Lippes)
A look from Khaite’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Khaite)
A look from Tory Burch’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Tory Burch)
SO TELL US, WHAT LOOKS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY DR. JILL BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS?
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