Ethical Fashion Meets Wearable Original Art
All images by Starre Vartan
There are many gorgeous stories behind ethical fashion lines, but I have to admit that Nomi Designs‘ is one of the most interesting out there. That’s because founder and designer Jullianna Smith calls her pieces “Wearable Original Art”— the patterns come from original hand-drawn sketches. Specifically, sketches that Jullianna’s mother made and which she didn’t find until after her death.
On top of this ethical fashion line’s unique story (see more on that in my conversation with Jullianna below), the Dove High Waist capri pants I got to try out were incredibly comfortable, made from thick, high-quality fabric that lasted, sans washing, for three hard workouts in a row, including one high up into the hills of the Bay Area of San Francisco (view from almost-the-top pictured above!). No stretching out or baggy knees here!
In addition from being made from 88% recycled polyester (post-consumer recycled plastic that was originally water bottles) and 12% spandex, they also have a special coating:
A ChitoSanté finish is applied for a natural anti-microbial and anti-bacterial element and also to add a soft hand to the fabric. ChitoSanté is a new environmentally friendly treatment made from post consumption shrimp and crab shells (EPA Certified).
I got a chance to ask Jullianna about her not-like-anything-I’ve-seen yoga and workout clothing and she filled me in on how Nomi Designs came to be.
Eco-Chick: I was so intrigued that you found your mother’s artwork after she passed away. Can you tell me the story behind that?
Jullianna Smith: After my mother passed I was taking care of packing her things up. She had many pieces of art that I consider more mainstream such as landscapes and wildlife paintings which were proudly displayed. I then discovered these sketches hidden in some of the strangest places, such as silverware drawers, under sofa cushions and in between towels in the linen closet. I was so intrigued by the whimsical yet spiritual attributes to these sketches compared to her other artwork. They immediately brought to a place in my childhood which was free from all inhibitions or hang ups.
JS: Pen and ink. When you look closely they are done in tiny dots. So amazingly detailed. I can just picture her there lost in creative thought with no plan or intentions, just letting the pen guide her.
EC: How did you decide to incorporate them into your designs?
I chose to incorporate the art in different ways. Sometimes I use just a portion of the art, sometimes I repeat the art into a pattern and sometimes I use the art as is on its own. I believe the piece of clothing dictates how to best portray the art.
EC: Will you continue to incorporate your mother’s drawings in designs going forward?
Oh absolutely. I have enough art to last forever. Also using portions or repurposing the image helps to keep longevity in the line. I also have art work pieces suitable for children and mens wear so stay tuned.
EC: Does it make you happy or sad (or both?) every time you look at her designs on your pieces?
So happy. I see my mother’s inspiration and motivation as a strong independent woman in everyone who dons them.
EC: You use eco-friendly fabrics—why did you decide to go that direction? Why is planetary health important to you and your company?
Yes, I use polyester made from recycled drink bottles then add a natural antibacterial finish made from shellfish (believe it or not). This is vital to what being an authentic woman, who is proud of their individuality stands for….nothing mainstream here