Harper's Bazaar Arabia (HBA): What led to your decision to skip out on New York Fashion Week this September?
Noon By Noor (NBN): As a result of halting our Spring/Summer 2021 collection, to focus instead on road mapping a future, in light of the new world order. Making a profound and sustainable change requires a huge investment in time. Therefore, we felt it was important to spend our time and energy conservatively and focus on the brand.
Can you tell us how were you affected by the pandemic?
NBN: From the onset of the pandemic, the health and safety of our local and larger communities have been our paramount concern. This meant that on an operational level, overnight adjustments and contingency plans needed to be made to maintain the flow of business. We tuned in to the rest of the world to evaluate business scenarios, only to return back to the drawing board when confronted with often conflicting predictions about the future. We finally felt confident enough to take a big step back in an effort to regroup and give rise to a new thought process.
What is your plan to recover in the next few months?
NBN: A great part of our recovery is reliant on our digital platforms and e-commerce. These online channels keep us connected with our clients, especially when it comes to our latest Autumn/Winter 2020 collection. It also provides a platform for regular updates and open dialogue with our community.
Do you have plans to show at the next NYFW in 2021?
NBN: We’re still cracking the code of our next collection’s presentation format. As of now, we're keeping our options are open. How the world will look like in the next few months will factor into our decision but, primarily, participating in NYFW will depend on what we feel best compliments our upcoming collection and which format helps us communicate our designs in the strongest, most engaging way possible.
Can you briefly break down the challenges or opportunities you've been facing as a business?
NBN: Uncertainty was the biggest challenge at first. There is no crystal ball that can show us the future and, therefore, no indication of how long this crisis will last.
Needless to say there was a need for an immediate, practical blueprint to maintain our long-term strategy. That’s what helped us determine which aspects of our operations must be immediately altered and which aspects have the opportunity to be improved for a better future. A challenge-turned-opportunity presented itself with clients switching to digital channels and shopping online en masse. While the level of demand has been brilliant, it placed an even greater responsibility on building trust, bridging transparency and ensuring every customer came away with a positive experience.
What is one thing you’ve learned from this experience in social distancing?
NBN: Quite simply, that anything can change overnight! Humans are wired to adapt and the thought of us standing in unison, from opposite ends of the world, to face the same global faceless opponent, is a very powerful one to fathom. Although separated by physical distance, the sentiment of togetherness fueled us. Although separated by physical distance, the sentiment of togetherness is fueled us. It created a sense of shared responsibility and commitment that kept our eyes focused on the greater good.
In your opinion, will COVID-19 change the fashion industry? And, if yes, how?
NBN: Without a doubt. The pandemic is establishing new routines that are here to stay. First, there’s our relationship with the physical world. While we don’t believe that the fashion industry will ever be fully digital due to the mere appeal of viewing clothes first-hand, more opportunities will present themselves for safer and more flexible engagement in industry-wide activities.
We also believe that this has granted us a heightened, much-needed awakening about just how interconnected we are. It has definitely drawn more attention and respect to better practices that are more considerate to the communities and environments in which we work. Lastly, it has made brands more confident to do what they deem more suitable for their businesses, even if it means breaking away from the traditional calendars or long-known industry practices, in pursuit of what makes sense for them.
Will the ‘new normal’ change the way we dress?
NBN: Aside from the facemask -- which has, undisputedly, worked its way up to the world's most prominent fashion accessory -- the ‘new normal’ has accelerated behavioral changes in shopping that were already underway. People are increasingly appreciating handmade, quality, staple pieces rather than short-lived, trendy ones. The rationale is focused on a capsule wardrobe with “forever pieces,”, which is directly related to the rising levels of awareness on sustainability. This naturally speaks to Noon By Noor’s aesthetic, which thrives on being timeless.
What are your thoughts on the future of the fashion industry, especially within the region?
NBN: Brands that survived 2020 will be able to weather just about any storm thrown at them in the future. Each will confidently march to the beat of their own drum, while staying in tune with the rest of the global community.
Lead image courtesy of Instagram/noonbynoor