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We can’t create a fair fashion world without a lot of passionate people working in the industry. In ‘Fair Fashion Pioneers’ we will interview brand owners, agents, designers and other inspiring people about what thrives them to do this work and how they try to contribute to a better world.

This week we meet up with designer Naomi Rachèl Timan. As a fashion designer, she started her own bag and accessory brand. After her Fashion design study at HKU in Utrecht, she started her first collection called “I WAS A..” in 2014 where she makes bags and accessories out of old materials like sofas and leather jackets. We met her in her atelier at the beautiful beach of The Hague and asked her everything about her passion for design and the re-use of fabrics.

Why did you start studying fashion design?

When I was younger I was always being creative and making things. After High School, I started a pre-educational course at the Art School in The Hague (KABK). There I found out that I loved fashion design. Eventually, I went to do the Bachelor of Fashion Design at the University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU).

How did you come up with the idea for the “I WAS A…” collection?

During my time at HKU I did an internship at Studio Jux where I learned a lot about sustainability. When I finished my study I was inspired to make something sustainable and do something with zero waste. I have also always loved vintage stores and looking for treasures at second-hand places. I made a new jacket from an old bag and that is where the idea started. I wanted to show that you could get so much out of old material.

One of the values we have at is waste reduction. Why is this value so important to you?

We already produce so much and the waste is getting bigger and bigger. We already have so much material, so why don’t we use that again? It’s all about a different mindset I think. I don’t want to just make something beautiful, but I want to make something with a meaning.

So, how do you start a design then?

I start with the material I got. It’s a different way than starting with the design. That’s definitely more of a puzzle than you would normally have, cause sometimes you don’t have enough leather for example. It is very challenging and you have to think more creative, but that is what I like about it.

Do you make all the designs yourself?

Yes, for now, I still am. Recently I did start to cooperate with a social workplace to see if they can also do some production for me. I like to look at my brand more as a studio, where I can work together with others too. I think the social aspect is also an important value in my brand.

You design and make every bag and accessory yourself. Where does your love for designing and making things come from?

Hmm... I don’t know exactly, haha! I think I just love being creative and to work with my hands. I have always done that, I do not know what else to do. Besides the designing, I like the business aspect too. To interact with people and inspire each other is what I also love about having my own brand.



Which problems did you run into when designing and making the collection?

I can only make a limited amount of bags. That is hard sometimes, especially with colors. Black leather is never a problem, but when I want a certain color of pink I cannot decide how much bags I want to make. That is also why I decided to make bags from furniture in the first place; I can relatively make a lot of bags out of a big couch.

Do you have any tips on how to reduce more waste?

First step: before you buy something ask yourself: do I really need this? In that way, you will almost never have to throw away something. And if you come to the point where you have to throw away a piece; ask if someone else could maybe use it!

How do you see the future of your company and collection?

More collaborations, I hope. I already started to work with the social workplace I mentioned earlier. And I am now also collaborating with students from the HKU for a project. Those are the steps that I would like to expand more in the future.

And the future of the sustainable fashion industry?

I hope that sustainable fashion would eventually become normal. For the consumer, it is still very hard to find sustainable and fair fashion, and that has to change.

If people have old clothing, couches or other material, can they send it to you?

Yes of course! Materials are always welcome. (smiling) 
You can email me if you have something you want to send me.

We loved talking to you, Naomi! 


Interview by Floor Boschhuizen and pictures by David van Dartel.