Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Feel Good Fashion: Repelle

Back in May, I had an opportunity to interview a lovely eco-fashion designer, Naomi Maaravi, from Israel. She and I discovered each other on Instagram and I had been keen to learn more about her designs as well as the sustainable fashion scene in Israel. I'm always excited to discover fashion designers who have sustainability at the core of what they create.

Naomi's eco-fashion brand is called Repelle whose no-waste philosophy is to use only upcycled, recycled and existing materials to drive their collection and become fashion trends. Their collections are defined by their equal parts design, art and ideology. Naomi's father instilled in her an understanding that no matter how old or broken an object may be, each object has it's own little story. Her father upcycled everything well before it was a trendy thing to do and as a result, she grew up in a world that was full of creativity and a care for our surroundings.

How did you become interested in fashion?
Honestly, I was not. I did not like the ‘plastic’ version of fashion.
I like personality and believe in personal beauty. I respect and am thankful for what we have.
I do like playing with materials and designing from existing materials.
I do like to make the body as beautiful.
I do like the fact when the beauty of an item is lost, I can fix it and refind its beauty.
I do like to see a customer made happy by putting on my garments and feeling good and comfortable in them, but the word fashion gives me always goose bumps.

What are some of your fashion influences? Who inspires you? What inspires your designs?
I can be inspired by the smell of perfume or it can be the material or garment by itself as start point. It can also be a person that passes by or it can be a dancer in his movement. It can be a poem or a word someone says …..it can be the silence or any other sense in my surrounding [it can also disturb].
Vivianne Westwood tickles me. Li Edelkoort can spot it. Dancer performer Shamel Pitts gives me the gift to get into myself. My brother is the best brainstormer. My kids inspire me for the little details I can forget and my partner looks me straight in the eye and demands that I go for THE !! Nothing less.
My team dialogue may not be forgotten because they can get into detail and twist and shape ideas.
My partner Ayelet will get me down from all clouds I visit to develop a commercial line also and not only art pieces.

When did you learn about the sustainable fashion movement? What techniques do you use in your designs?

My father was far ahead of this sustainable lifestyle of today back in the sixties. He never threw anything away and he upcycled everything. He made me dolls, he made the rugs in my bedroom and the lamps by the entrance from milk bottles and my mother took care so it all looked aesthetic. We had separate garbage at home, which was in that time unusual, but it was kind of our home language. I learned to think out of the box and to respect what we have and to respect our world.

Sustainability is part of me. I feel guilty if I don’t care. I follow as much as I can to get information to read about it, but everyday there is more to follow and it's already impossible to follow all of it. It is difficult to succeed in both sustainable and economic ways, but we try our best even though it is a challenge.

At Repelle, our philosophy is first of all to be transparent. We produce locally and by law it should be follow the rules of human rights. We have a no-waste policy which means we produce from stock fabrics, yarns and garments. We use left over leather and upcycle leather coats for our accessories.
We pack with recycled materials and what is not sold will be upcycled or given to Goodwill organisations. We inform the client on how we made the items with our hang tag. We try to send all our collection items with as little packaging as possible.

As far as design goes, we make all our collections in classic colors and shapes so clients can merge past and future items with the items of today. Our goal is for the customer to wear the item as much as possible because of the shape and comfort. This is slow fashion.

Can you describe the sustainable fashion scene in Israel? How do you see yourself contributing to this scene?
In Israel, the sustainable fashion scene is so small and is picking up slowly. Most of the customers and most of the fashion industry in Israel is not aware. They are more price conscious in general, but I do see bit by bit events and promotions around this theme of sustainability. Our role with Repelle is to try to provide a good example as much we can. We have hang tags to educate consumers with information. We communicate via our Facebook and Instagram and our website. We participate in as many events and give presentations as much we can.

What vision do you have for the future of your brand?
When I started, I made only upcycled items, but since Ayelet ben Shahar joined the company we've been trying to reach a bigger audience nationally and internationally with our ‘commercial ‘line produced locally from stock fabrics, stock yarns and stock garments and left over leathers. We want to be able to balance between our commercial line and our unique pieces and to have a successful business which is both sustainable and profitable. We hope to continue to work with joy and to share our philosophy with the world.

Thank you Naomi for giving my readers and I insight into your brand and sharing your inspiration and vision for the future of sustainable fashion in Israel and around the world.

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