BONUS INTERVIEW: Negin Izad of Noctex
May 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Negin Izad runs Noctex, a small independent fashion brand she established based in Vancouver, Canada. The clothing and accessories she designs embody the mathematical structure of geometry, the organic flow of draped fabric, and the way black can reflect both sheer simplicity and rich texture. Noctex is also dedicated to sustainability and ethical production, striving to eliminate fabric waste and promote fair trade.
What does your office/studio look like?
My office space is my entire living space, at times. I live partially underground, so one side of my house is all natural light and one side is mostly dark. I transition between my sewing/drafting room to where I keep fabrics and racks of samples in the living room. Basically, as a working student, my space is still very limited. Fortunately I have a great table, sewing machine and lots of elaborate working tools I have gathered over the past few years.
What kinds of things do you keep around you for inspiration?
Since my space in my home is so small, I like to only bring in things that will keep me inspired. I have a bookcase full of academic pattern making books from school on one side, and various books and articles I find from my travels. I also have a small collection of physical music media with interesting packaging and presentation. I am a collector of inspirational things and seem to love trying to fit it all in one space. And of course, my favorite inspirational pieces are the various oddities and skeletal pieces I have collected.
What kinds of soundscapes do you surround yourself with?
It depends on my mood. I used to listen to a lot of mixed atmospheric metal or black metal to work in the colder seasons. I tend to switch to more doom metal for the warmer seasons. Its really whatever keeps me focused at the time.
What does a typical workday look like for you? What is your schedule like?
I don’t think I currently have a work day that’s typical or routine. Since I go to school full time, my days are about fitting everything else in between, and really making every hour count. Some days I can be in school from 8 am to 5, then stay to get work done in sewing labs before they close. Other days I wake up early to get work done in the studio before switching brains to work on class projects.
What kinds of software and computing devices, if any, do you use to get your work done?
I use Adobe Illustrator a lot. Since I work with local small production companies, I do a mix of meetings with them and digital files for specification sheets. I use excel sheets a lot to keep track of everything. I actually love organizing myself through numbers. For pattern making, I have done some work on digital software at school, but my own processes for NOCTEX are still a matter of rulers, paper and draping on a mannequin.
What kinds of tools do you use? How do you use them? What is your creative process like?
My creative process tends to aim around the idea of being efficient with my materials. I like to use newsprint or old paper for initial sketches, then move to a digital media at times. Sometimes I will use scrap fabric I have saved to make a quick prototype for part of the design I had in mind, just to get a physical image set.
What kind of mental processes help you get work done?
Although I am in a creative field, I have a very mathematical approach to a lot of things I do. I like numerical value in design, and I have been doing more research on the input of mathematics through design. Even if I start with draping a garment and cutting away instinctively, I still make hard patterns and adjust the numbers.
What does “handmade” mean to you?
Handmade can refer to the individual artist making the piece for you, but I don’t think that’s where it has been limited. I think if someone uses the word hand made, they should refer it to themselves. Otherwise, it should be a ‘handmade by X’ or ‘handmade in x area’. For example, I hand make some things from fabric to finish, but I also work with a local company in my neighborhood that has under 10 people that help you produce things. Then at that point its made in x area. It’s a factory, but its all individually handmade with the cost of the garment being spread evenly between more people that are in great working conditions, but it shouldn’t be labeled as ‘handmade’ if you are a small business. Some independent businesses hire individual sewers to help them and label it as handmade, but because its not a company of separate factory, people accept that term. Now that small businesses are growing in the online community especially, the term ‘handmade’ is becoming as questioned as the term ‘organic’ for food.
What do you think of the term “independent/indie” for small fashion business such as yours? Is there another term you feel would fit better?
I use the term independent, because that describes the process more than anything right now. Its about me as a worker and designer constantly challenging myself to learn new things in order to develop everything to come back to Noctex.
What inspires you in the creation of your objects?
My root of inspiration is to make pieces that have a purpose. Whether that purpose is as simple as for someone to be comfortable in a different shade of black than his or her usual, or for an individual piece to be worn in different ways to give the garment more of a use in someone’s life. My philosophy is one that was taught very well to me in my schooling – the world don’t ‘need’ more garments. So if I am going to make something, will it be a staple item, will it be a standout item of quality or will it just be another piece to sell. From there I go to historical inspirations around garments, armor and pieces that gave people certain roles and identities, and then try to understand how that can relate to a garments future.
What do the objects you create mean to you?
In a way, the things I think of making occupy a certain space in my head. I enjoy thinking about these concepts and figuring out a way to have them come to life in front of me. To create the piece and have the idea of it translate even similarly to someone who wears the item is what solidifies what I do. If the garment doesn’t go to have a role in someone’s life, then it never reaches its purpose.
What do the materials you use mean to you?
Materials are so crucial to what I do. The fabric I source is basically materials that has been sold off by larger companies that no longer have plans for them. All of the ones I choose are quality fabrics that were often special ordered. To use these fabrics instead of ordering new rolls gives me a bit more of a sound mind. The industry of making almost anything can be wasteful, but there are always options. I only choose fabrics that wear well or have special character otherwise. Sometimes my need to use less materials, or use them more efficiently can set back timelines on my work, but it is worth it to me to know the product is one step closer to being something sustainable.
I’m totally with you on how the world doesn’t need more garments, and that the ones that are newly made should really have a reason to exist. Can you tell me more about how you view sustainability and the meaningfulness of handmade/independently-produced fashion products?
My views on the matter are constantly broadening with the more education I get, but it really comes down to the fact that the way we use our money is so powerful. When we spend money on something it silently but automatically casts a vote in favour of that product, the company, and the companys profile. I want to be a brand that people feel right supporting on many aspects; transparency, use of materials, the way things are marketed.
How do you transfer your material presence, in terms of your self and your handmade objects, to the digital world?
Photography is key for presenting objects. You really have to convey material and presence through photos in order to connect with people. In the past year I have used photography to also convey myself through some photo sets, even in faceless shots.
How do you balance the physical and the digital? Do you prefer digitized media or analog media, etc.?
I have been taught both medias in my schooling, which I am very thankful for. Sometimes I would go from a half-day sketching class to a 4 hour class on digital marker making. I don’t think I prefer one to the other. The balance of both is what has leaded me here.
How do you use the internet to connect with others interested in the same kind of work and aesthetic? How do you interact with them offline?
The internet seemed to connect me with like minded people almost effortlessly. The amount of amazing creative minds I have encountered online is incredible. My offline interactions are usually with people that do not necessarily have the same mindset or aesthetic as I do, but they are people working in many different directions in creative industries. I am often able to appreciate other aesthetics and take enjoyment in it, even if they are not related to my own.
Do you consider yourself part of a subcultural community? What name would you give it?
I have been asked this a few times and I realized that I am not good at categorizing what I do. Although I do see patterns and connections, but I think that once I start naming it, I am putting myself in some sort of boundary. That is the last thing I would want to do to myself or other people that I connect with.
How would you describe your personal aesthetic and that of Noctex?
Each new season somewhat describes where my aesthetic is heading. I want Noctex’s aesthetic to be as open to change and progression as I am, while remaining true to the values that I try to build. Of course, my own aesthetic sometimes becomes more varied on a day to day basis. I like to keep myself open to different looks and things to prevent from being boxed in by a certain category. I guess thats also why I don’t want to label my brand as any specific type of fashion aesthetic. It really destroys any creative freedom when you do that.