A CONVERSATION WITH NOURHAN SAWA

Originally  from Egypt, Nourhan Sawa had a dream to create fashion for the kind of women she was inspired by from the Ancient Egyptian culture. These were strong powerful women who were in fact, very ahead of their time.

Her high luxury label, NOURHAN SAWA, follows an artistically driven design aesthetic where the creations are rich in a fusion of luxe, flowy, delicate fabrics made by the hands of Italian artisans and Egyptian craftsmen who are highly skilled artists of great knowledge of genuine Egyptian hand work and ancient embroidery techniques mixed with Sawa’s own vision of abstract art. PHOTO CREDITS: Sarah El Sahrawy

Here we discover more about the brand and Sawa’s big plans for the future:

Describe yourself as a creative and how your label was born? 

Having my own fashion label has been my ultimate dream for as long as I can remember.  I realized this was my dream through separate phases of my life where I was exposed to various forms of art from a very young age. growing up in a family where I saw my mom as an ultimate fashion icon who admires art, music and collecting antiques, my dad; an adventurer at heart who loves the ocean and has a peculiar way of seeing beauty and wisdom in everything, the way I listened to him and my grandpa poetically talk about their hometown Alexandria sounded very much like listening to a love story, not to mention my grandma who is a brilliant storyteller by nature. Growing up in these surroundings, I found myself becoming a creative observer and a listener, I wanted to tell and translate everything I felt, the art, the stories, and the life I was exposed to, into things that you can touch, feel, and experience, and that is when I knew I wanted to do that through my fashion label – my creative space where everything I experience is translated to fashion creations carrying my very own stories within it.

How do you manage the creativity process exactly as it’s really challenging nowadays in fashion industry?

Creativity is a gift, if it lies within you, it will serve you even at the most challenging of times, your creativity clicks differently each time you are exposed to a different situation. I personally find inspiration internally, within my own feelings, from my own stories and the stories of the women in my life, my own experiences, my culture, and my surroundings – these are intangibles, things that cannot be changed by external factors. Even during the toughest times like the coronavirus outbreak, I don’t think my creativity process was negatively influenced, quite the contrary, it felt good to have the time to pause, reflect, slow down and delve deeper in my creative thoughts. 

What is the most challenging issue in for an independent label? 

  1. Individuality 
  2. Sustainable growth. 

In an oversaturated marketplace, the first challenge facing many new independent labels would be individuality, finding a unique identity and mastering your special tone, once you have that, it will be easier overcoming other challenges such as financing, competition and building a community with a powerful base, because only then, you give people an authentic reason to believe in your message. Another major challenge is sustainable growth, especially for labels coming from regions where the majority of the industry’s fundamental workforce such as textile distributers, tailors and other labor lack the required education and awareness surrounding the sustainability issue, this makes it very challenging for designers to source sustainable materials and even communicate with their labor regarding the importance of having a sustainable cycle, but after all, it’s an inevitable responsibility that we have to take, we all need to communicate, educate and build awareness, only then we overcome challenges. 

What’s the main impact of social media in both ways, buying and brand marketing? 

Now, more than ever, social media and digital platforms in general are cornerstones for labels who want to build a community, grow, adapt and communicate, no matter where you stand, if you’ve just started today or if you’ve been in the market for decades, the digital revolution we’re witnessing is shaping and transforming the fashion buyer’s and the direct consumer’s behavior in many different ways, it’s no longer about browsing and buying a product you like, social media offers convenience, eases trend forecasting, offers innovative communication methods and allows you to discover products you didn’t even know you needed. Now, with the presence of social media and digital platforms, you build relationships with the consumer, you can create a sense of belongingness, build a community, engage with the buyers, and allow them to be a part of the experience your brand is offering with just a few clicks. As for marketing, social media and digital platforms offer a wonderful opportunity when it comes to storytelling, creating compelling visuals that translates your message, as it allows you to grab your customer’s attention, and build a community faster and smarter. All these impacts open the doors of innovating and coming up with new tactics that will lead you to be ahead of the market and always in line with your consumer’s preferences, it’s a game changer for sure.

How do you manage to choose your models in order to spread better the diversity issue through your label? 

Simply by choosing real women from my life. Most of my models are women I personally know, women with different bodies, backgrounds, experiences, and stories that inspire me. When I started my brand, I promised myself to offer authenticity, choosing the faces who represent Nourhan Sawa that way, allows me to deliver my message, stay true to my promise and display the beauty of diversity and uniqueness. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge regarding your work?

I am driven by my heart, passion, and artistic flair and that is a challenge as I often must detach when considering the market needs, the personal challenge Is maintaining that balance – a balance between being artistic and sticking to my identity while being commercial, feeding my passion while considering what the market wants, designing with my heart while designing smart and keeping sales in mind.

How do you think your label can play an important role in your daily client’s life?

I offer a lifestyle through my brand. The Nourhan Sawa woman comes with different faces but one unique identity, she’s an individual woman who admires art and dares to be different, she’s fierce, powerful, strong yet emotional, delicate, and feminine. With the diversified strategy and the holistic approach we’re gradually introducing through our fashion, art, and cultural landscape, we’re offering everything that one unique woman might be looking for in her daily life, from practicality, function and comfort to sophistication, individuality, and style. 

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your pieces online nowadays?

Amazing opportunity for sure, it allows you to reach an audience from all over the globe, share your experiences and build a diverse community that resonates with your purpose and message.

Imagine that you must write a letter to your FUTURE SELF. What would you write?

Always stay true to yourself, stay fearless, stay passionate, continue doing things your own unique way because that’s what makes you special, that’s how you make it, and never stop fighting for what you believe in. 

NOURHAN SAWA