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Lebanon’s revolution and the ethics of posting

Lebanon's revolution and the ethics of posting | nadine mneimneh image 3

There is a question that is being raised quite recurrently  these days. 

Is it somehow OK to resume posting on social media about our brand / our work / our store?

The first weeks of the #thawra were prone to a general silence, with brands muting their communication or solely posting about the thawra as a collective wish to hold its momentum.

Everybody is concerned and affected as individuals but also as business entities by thirty years of restless ongoing corruption. 

And as much as we may share different views of how this needs to be addressed (my motto remains كلّن_يعني_كلَن#) the reality is that 24 days of disrupted activities is not easy to handle.

Local fashion brands who are based in #Lebanon are generally  B2C-oriented, most of the time with majority of local customers instead foreign, and they mainly market their products through social media. 

They employ local workers (sales assistants, stock keepers, delivery/drivers, seamstresses…), get their supplies from local shops, and also outsource their packaging, their graphic design work and  photography also locally, not mention other services such fabric embroidery, printing, etc, from local factories…

Lebanese designers are usually micro/small/medium size companies whose activities involve people from various socio economical backgrounds, it is not a blogger-fashionista bubble. 

Businesses who are trying to benefit from the thawra by promoting “thawra-themed” products whether apparel or other commodities are perpetuating the concept of overdose-milking an occasion like it’s usually done in Lebanon, when it’s valentine’s day or fathers’ day or any special occasion. I personally don’t like it, I think it’s bad taste. 

But to disrespect or bully local designers or the stores that sell local designs because they need to maintain some sort of activity to survive, it’s NOT OK.

It’s NOT OK to bully anyone.

If you have the means to buy local fashion instead of imported, then you should do it. If you don’t want to, it’s OK, but don’t demean people who have started honest businesses in Lebanon and who are currently hoping they’ll survive just like everybody else.

I’m sharing pictures of my work taken by Myriam Boulos in 2014, who was cyber-bullied due to her pictures published on Oct 22 in a Time magazine article about Lebanon uprising. 

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Closure is not always overrated, where do we go now?

Closure is not always overrated,  where do we go now? | nadine mneimneh

Although nobody reads blogs anymore, I do maintain the blog section of my site, in a way to keep my brand’s journal. 

And I’ve come to realize that many things have closed down  since I’ve started, whether it’s publications, blogs, brands, stores or organizations. 

And it’s quite disturbing and sad.

And what is even more disturbing is the lack of communication surrounding those closings.

You may open instagram now, search for  an account, only to find that the latest post dates back to 2017. Then nothing. Even worse with twitter. Sometimes that latest post is even more recent than the latest activity on the website.  

And this raises the question of continuity and vision.

How can we continue to do things we want to , when everything is transitioning into something else. 

Paris fashion week is over,  with a flock of showrooms that  have promoted the work of designers for SS20.

But as a designer, how efficient it is to copy an old business model, to market the products the same way it’s been done in the past, through tradeshows or showrooms? 

Of course designers can’t do everything themselves, but how sustainable, efficient and profitable that system is for designers who are yearning for visibility and wholesale? especially in times of economic instability, when you ought to look for new markets. 

Can independent/young designers actually afford that system? 

It feels that the power used to be in the hands of buyers and press, is it still the case now ? 

This picture was taken by Johanne Issa in July 2012 at my grandparents house, and probably my most published lookbook picture !

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Ballpen sketching

Ballpen sketching | nadine mneimneh
Ballpen sketching | nadine mneimneh

I’ve never been keen on drawing or illustrating. During my time in fashion school, I would get very lazy at detailing the hands, the nose, the hair, or eye makeup of my figurine sketches. I couldn’t wait to go to the cutting table, lay that thin paper and start drafting the pattern. 

During a job interview soon after graduation, I was asked by the designer’s assistant how much I could sell a dress for to a client, based on a sketch only. I remember looking at my portfolio and looking back again at the sketch he had presented me, with glitter spread all over the drawn dress, mimicking the sequins and Swarovski stones embellishments, and thinking to myself how difficult it would be for me to find a fashion house in Lebanon to fit in and gain experience from . 

It was 2009, at that time couture was the bread and butter of the fashion industry in Lebanon. At that time, and in order to be “successful”, a Lebanese designer had to prove him/herself abroad first , in order to gain value in the eye of the Lebanese consumers. 

The general mindset was that Lebanese-made ready-to-wear was not really worth the price, only couture dresses were worth spending money on. Retailers were neither keen on buying wholesale from local designers, fearing it might devalue their store image. 

I remember being at a meeting with a local boutique owner along with other designers. One of the designers asked if he would sell local designers fashion, to which he answered “I sell only one Lebanese brand, it’s because she (the designer) is Brazilian-Lebanese and lives in Brazil”.  To this day, retailers would rather place the merchandise on consignment instead of giving it a chance and actually buy the collection wholesale.

But luckily things change, the consumers’ mindset has changed a lot, this is why new brands are burgeoning, each one having something to say, whether it’s about aesthetics, sustainability, supporting the local community, preserving the craft, voicing the youth, and ultimately being this great vehicle for all the Lebanese culture there is to share through its people, its diaspora, and its history.

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Things I do at the studio

Things I do at the studio | nadine mneimneh

One of the challenges of buying stock fabric rolls is that, very often, the fabric composition is missing. 

So here I am, performing a burn test on a small swatch of the khaki fabric that I used for the [Kaftan Dress] .

• DO NOT REPEAT AT HOME❌ 

The burn test went as follows: The sample shrank and burnt, leaving hard black and a bit of white residue that can be partially crushed 👩🏻‍🔬

The result: It is ACETATE 💡

• Now what is ACETATE? 👩🏻‍🏫

Quoting the “Fabric for fashion, the complete guide” by Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnston, 

Acetate is produced from wood pulp or cotton linters. It […] can be smooth and soft, with good draping qualities. It was first introduced in the early years of the 20th century, although initial developments date back to 1860s. 

Acetate and Triacetate show excellent resistance to pilling, dry quickly, have poor thermal retention and are hypoallergenic. Acetate wicks moisture and is therefore favoured as lining as it allows perspiration to dissipate quickly.

• Environmental sustainability 🌱

Both acetate and triacetate are made from renewable resources that can be composted or incinerated at the end of the garment’s life cycle.

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That picture is 6 years old

That picture is 6 years old | nadine mneimneh

That picture is 6 years old.

Back then I had highlights in my hair, but to this day I sit on the same stool, at the same sewing machine, in that same studio on Hamra street.

I am a maker.

I like to drape on a dummy or make a small sketch, draft a pattern, cut a “toile”, check the fit, pick the fabric, decide on the finishing, sew the prototype, grade the pattern in different sizes and sew the production, and deliver it to my stand. Also I take product shots, update my website, travel to participate to pop-ups, and be present for my clients, among many other tasks.

It is my name that is printed on the label, because I made your clothes.

Is it crazy to operate this way? Of course.

But I master my product, and only because I care soooo much about it.

After a few years of experience at different fashion houses, I knew that I needed to create my own definition of success.

And for me success is about balance and growth and meaningfulness, but never at the expense of others, and never for the sole sake of financial backers.

Just conscious sustainability.

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When it comes to sourcing materials

When it comes to sourcing materials | nadine mneimneh
When it comes to sourcing materials | nadine mneimneh

When it comes to sourcing materials, I mainly rely on what’s available locally. My activities aren’t yet big enough to require large fabric quantity orders from overseas international mills. Organic fabrics, tech fabrics, recycled fibers, all these dreamy options have a noble cost and I hope to be able to make that organic transition in the future. But for now, and although it’s a drop in an ocean of fashion waste, I do get some satisfaction from buying stock fabric rolls that ended up in Beirut instead of a landfill. And I have to say that I do get very excited when I find some gems from now-closed Italian factories. In a tiny marketplace such as Lebanon, we all have a role to play, no matter how big or small, to maintain a “healthy” ecosystem. When corrupted public powers are purposely failing local players by lack of investment or support, it becomes even more important to #buylocal and #fairtrade

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nadine mneimneh x Lone Design Club for London Fashion Week Fringe ’19

This London Fashion Week, nadine mneimneh will be taking part in Lone Design Club co-curated concept store in the heart of Soho (59 Greek Street) with other premium independent fashion, accessories and lifestyle brands.

Taking place over two weeks from 13th – 26th February, LDC opened its doors daily from 10am- 7pm.

The beauty of LDC is that every concept store is unique. Whether it is displaying a new emerging premium brand, discovering one-of-a kind products, or gaining a glimpse into the fashion world with their in-store experiences and events led by influential individuals within the fashion industry. The latest pop-up offered consumers a chance to fully immerse themselves in the London Fashion Week experience – from attending new collection presentations, networking evenings and presentations on exciting topics such as, sustainable fashion and innovation.

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The way we do things

Mini Harris Vest | nadine mneimneh

 

 

The way we do things | nadine mneimneh

Citing Dries Van Noten for whom I have tremendous admiration, from the Netflix documentory “Dries” :

“To shock now, you really have to do crazy things. Everything you can find on the Internet, Everything. So it is very difficult to stand out by shocking, so it is now more the way you do things, the subtleties, that are important.”

So meaningful to me.. I’m sharing with you a closeup of the Mini Harris Vest, as part of the Edition series of unique pieces. This jacket is sold out, but remembering the steps of making it still tickles my creativity