Creative Director Jullianna Smith Chats About All-Natural Artisan Fashion Line NOMI
As the creative director of Vancouver-based fashion line NOMI, Jullianna Smith has combined her hippie childhood with a love of natural, artisan pieces. NOMI has an upcoming yoga collection set for April and a new spring/summer 2015 line already launched. Real Style chatted with the unconventional fashionista about her switch from interior design to fashion, style inspiration and her passion for the Canadian fashion industry.
Real Style: How has your unique, free-spirited childhood and hippie family lifestyle growing up influenced your designs?
Jullianna: Obviously, I grew up as the daughter of a hippie, so I wasn’t into fashion at that age. I was given hand-me-downs, things that were from yard sales and yard sales. As a child growing up that way, I learned to re-work and re-purpose old items and try to make them a little more fashionable and stylish. Later in life, I rebelled against my upbringing and found that I had to have everything new and beautiful. That’s when I realized that I was just playing a game, that I wasn’t being true to my roots or who I was.
What I’m trying to do with NOMI is to give you style and sophistication with a whimsical artisan approach, so that it’s okay to celebrate both worlds.
Real Style: What have been some of the biggest challenges of launching your line?
Jullianna: Trying to always compete with the giant market. That’s certainly a challenge, but for me, I’m not trying to get numbers. I’m not trying to get sales; I’m more so trying to get a story told. I’ve chosen fashion as my medium.
Real Style: What are NOMI’s favourite ways to embrace the spring 2015 bohemian trend, as spotted on the runways?
Jullianna: We use all natural fibres, so I have a natural linen cloth that is very much a bohemian style. Also, just the art itself- placing the art in various places follows that trend as well. Bohemian, to me, is natural, free and artisan, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do with all aspects of my clothing.
Real Style: What are your essential pieces from the NOMI Spring 2015 collection, and why?
Jullianna: I think it would be our pink Jules blazer. You can wear it to work in career mode, and still be sophisticated with a slight artisan flare in the lining. After that, you throw on a pair of jeans and you can celebrate that inner hippie a little bit more.
Real Style: As the creative director of NOMI, which designers and clothing lines have influenced your work?
Jullianna: I did this as a personal journey, more than anything, to get a story and a message out. I don’t know of any other fashion designers who are doing that, putting out inspirational messages. I think it’s time for us as women to celebrate our uniqueness, origins and strengths through fashion. Let’s use fashion as the medium to get the message out there.
Real Style: What can we expect from your label in the seasons to come?
Jullianna: Right now, I’m ready to launch a yoga line, hopefully this April. I think NOMI is perfect for yoga, again utilizing original art with inspirational sayings. I’ve got a much larger Fall 2015 line ready to be launched as well. Moving forward, I have enough art that I can go into children’s wear or menswear.
Real Style: How did you make the shift from your roots and background in interior design to a career in fashion?
Jullianna: Growing up as the child of a hippie, my mother and I moved, on average, every six months. She was an artist and her passion was painting. Every time we moved, I was sort of tasked with setting up the new house. There were times that we’ve lived in tepees and school buses. There were other times we’ve lived in 5,000 square foot beautiful houses. After fifteen years of being an interior designer and after my mother passed away, I found these sketches that I didn’t know she had done. I saw all of her original artwork as far as the oil paintings and acrylics and all that, those I knew about. But I found these sketches that I’m working with now. Right away, they moved me and reminded me of strong, influential women in my life and I thought that they needed to be celebrated in a way other than just sketches. I didn’t know 20 years ago that I would be in the fashion industry by any stretch of the imagination!
Real Style: As a Vancouver-based designer, what do you like about working in the Canadian fashion industry?
Jullianna: When I first started this, I resourced a bunch of sewing rooms, places to manufacture and print in New York. But we have all of these resources, if not more and better, right in our own backyard, here in Vancouver for sure. I’ve established printing places that do my printing processes and my manufacturing right here in Vancouver. . There are four to five different steps that this one garment needs to go through. The quality control is better and the quality of the workmanship is amazing.
Real Style: NOMI aims to use inspirational quotes as part of its clothing. How do you incorporate quotes into your designs, and what do you consider inspiring about fashion?
Jullianna: Growing up poor and wearing hand-me-downs can affect how you feel. As women, we all know the feeling of putting on a thousand dollar designer suit- it just gives you a bit of a Superman syndrome. You instantly feel a sense of pride. So, that’s what I tried to do, re-create and re-purpose growing up. With NOMI, I want you to have that sophistication and high level of style, but at the same time, just remind yourself of that through the quotes.
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