Recycled and retold
Interview with eco fashion designer – Naomi Maaravi

“I am a fashion designer, but I work like a sculptor – building every garment
piece by piece.” – Naomi Maaravi

Naomi Maaravi believes nothing can go to waste, not even a story. While recycled materials form the warp and woof of her garments, her personal stories and memories add the finishing touch. Following her father’s footsteps, who reused every article in the house to create something new, Naomi recycles materials to weave new ensembles and stories.

Naomi is based in Israel, and I had the rare opportunity to interview her online and get some insights into the eco fashion industry. Although eco fashion is a rather overstated phrase, Naomi had her unique story to share.

1.From Holland to Israel – can you tell us more about your journey?

I believe my abode is in my body, and I live life wherever it takes me. To begin with, I am a Dutch designer. Having studied fashion and textile in the Netherlands, I consider it to be my fatherland. Israel, on the other hand, is my motherland. I have flourished as a designer and grown as a human being here. My journey spans from Holland to Israel via Milan and Paris. Truly speaking, my passion has guided me through all aspects of work and life.

2) Your garments have a story behind them. How have you evolved through the years as a designer?

During the nascent stage of my fashion business, it was expensive and time consuming to make pieces with a personal identity. Today, it is different; we even create ‘twins’. More and more pieces that look identical are designed with rolls of fabric, tablecloth, or even with readymade garments that can be upcycled. But the key is to maintain the personal identity of each garment. Fortunately, we have been successful with that. We also stamp each piece with personal information (the story) as proof. We not only sell clothes, but all kinds of home furnishings and accessories, of course all remade by us.

3) Your garments are filled with memories and stories. How do you get your customers to relate to your personal story?

Hmmm…interesting! Well Natalie, who works with me, says that the designs speak for themselves. Also, I think the look and feel of the studio adds to the appeal. Customers sometimes don’t understand what to buy, but they surely want to be a part of the designs, part of the eco culture. They are drawn towards our concept and connect with our belief: garments telling unique stories made with recycled materials. The exciting part is, sometimes, my clients bring their own materials, and I redesign their story. This is a different experience altogether.

4) To recycle – what are the different kinds of materials you work with?

I work with existing materials: fabric, knick-knacks, and natural materials that I can find around me. Sometimes, I even use jeans, leather, and ready-made garments. Usually, I follow the trend and translate them to suit my ideas and taste.

5) What do you think of the existing state of recycle fashion and what steps can be taken to encourage it?

From where it started, I can see a lot of progress in this area. A good idea would be to have an assigned trademark for recycle fashion, like the one for products made with pure wool. An open market, where leftover stock from big companies can be exclusively used for recycling, instead of throwing it. Another option could be to reduce heavy taxes, to give eco fashion a chance to succeed. This is only the beginning, I am positive about the world’s response to recycle / upcycle fashion.

6) How do you think people can be made aware of eco fashion when high street fashion is so popular and affordable?

I believe it is similar to the food industry – junk food versus healthy food, which one to choose? People prefer junk food because it is cheap, like high-street fashion. What they don’t realize is the environmental hazard high-street fashion can cause. Moreover, these clothes are stained by child labour. Similar to health foods, eco fashion is healthy for the planet. The options are available; you have to make a choice.

7) Eco-fashion is flourishing. But how can we expand this concept of recycle/upcycle to other areas of fashion and lifestyle?
Sure thing, it is flourishing. Nowadays, more and more people are aware of it. For example, Piet Heijn Eek, it has created a niche for itself. I think companies should make it an integral part of their philosophy and brand. Look at Nike, they are surely working towards it.

7) In your experience, which countries in the world are more exposed to recycle fashion?

Various countries like Canada, Germany, and New Zealand. Also, many countries are taking the initiative to organize eco fairs. A wave of change in eco fashion can be felt.

9) What would your message be to fashion designers starting out in eco fashion?

Life is a bundle of choices you make. So, if you have made the choice to pursue eco fashion, be honest to it and believe in it. It is hard to earn money, but the experience is enriching. After all, you are respecting yourself and the world you live in. Everything else will follow, keep up the faith. Who doesn’t have to cross a few hurdles in life?

An inspiring designer, a storyteller, a proud mother, and a doting wife – Naomi Maaravi certainly shows us a different shade of life.

Her collections:-
Clothes without borders: in theater, dance (Bianca van Dillen), music (Candy Dulfer) and fashion from underwear (Delta for ck, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren etc.) to outerwear (NafNaf, Mexx etc.).