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Michael Hadida: "awareness of eco-friendliness in the world of fashion will depend on students".

ESMOD Paris has joined forces with multi-disciplinary Parisian concept store The Norm, run by Michael Hadida, to showcase the eco-friendly designs of six first-year students.

Michael Hadida is certainly no stranger to the world of fashion. From legendary concept store L'éclaireur, founded by his parents, to The Norm, an innovative space created to host designers, craftspeople and even artists, not forgetting the development of the Tranoi trade show, this great design professional’s career has always revolved around his ability to curate and showcase unique creative worlds, and this willingness to think outside the box has blossomed into a collaboration with the Parisian branch of the ESMOD International group and first-year students on the Fashion Designer programme.

So what’s so special about this collaboration? That would be its emphasis on mindful design - a theme that is very much in keeping with the nature of The Norm. “This is a place where you’ll find recycled materials everywhere. Within our walls, which themselves comprise a mixture of sheet metal and cardboard, you’ll find a wooden sculptural work and racks piled with sustainable offerings from pure players who practice responsible sourcing. It was important to me that the setting be as much about style as about substance”, the entrepreneur explains. The front of the store showcases the craftsmanship embodied in design, tableware, pottery and even ceramics remarkably well.

Not all of the fashion designers featured at The Norm necessarily operate responsibly, though, which is why Michael Hadida considers it so important to collaborate, as an opportunity to encourage designers to adopt a more mindful approach to design. “What we are trying to do with The Norm experience is raise as much awareness as possible of global issues relating to responsibility - a broad word that encompasses not only environmental issues but also issues relating to employment and social relations. This is why we’ve outlined 10 rules that make up our DNA and that we not only live by ourselves but also require our partners to abide by. Our hope is that these rules will one day become the norm in the textile industry”.

The Norm therefore appears to be the ideal space for initiating this discussion about ethics. “It all starts with the students”, Michael explains, “because they embody the new generation that will soon be out in the field. Our partnership with ESMOD gave us access to 150 pieces that students had designed in accordance with the principles of eco-friendliness, and we carefully selected 10 recycled hoody-themed outfits. Our selection criteria meant finding pieces that were not only saleable but also wearable and aesthetically pleasing while at the same time being the only ones of their kind, which proved to be a difficult exercise in style. Each piece requires a different assembly process and tells a unique story, which is very important to us as a retailer because that story gives the product added value”.

The selected designs offer something of an overview of the offering developed by first-year students. Bob Sarraf, a Lebanese student who arrived in Paris this year, recycled a Russian apron and an old sweater into an offset green-dyed hoody with large swathes of azure-blue fabric on the back, while Célia Etzol adopted the codes of the sweatshirt to create a basketball jersey, which has already been sold, requiring the French student to overcome the pitfalls of working with overlocks and overstitching necessary to create this piece that falls so perfectly - a challenge she very successfully overcame. The wool and fabric of the double sleeves that edge the organic cotton fleece sweatshirt created by Lélia Vicens are sourced both from charity shops and from scraps left over from her patternmaking classes, meaning everything is completely recycled, right down to the strings from a ball of wool the 1st-year student found lying around at home. Having come to France from Argentina specifically to study at the Parisian school, Martina Coco sourced the materials she used to handcraft the denim plumetis to adorn her creation inspired by the purity of birth from a second-hand market and her own personal wardrobe,

while Italian Roberta Esposito sought to raise public awareness of the issue of the toxic waste buried in the centre of the peninsula with her Land of Fire project, involving a jersey-based piece covered with recycled organza. Last but by no means least, Sarah Lissane used 164 denim patches sourced from her family’s old clothes to create a striking patchwork design applied to a hoody with a soft lining produced from a shawl donated to the student by a friend of her mum. All of these different designs carry the same message, namely that eco-friendliness goes hand-in-hand with creativity, and the public is clearly sensitive to this approach. “People are delighted to see that these are, in fact, unique pieces produced by ESMOD students”, Michael Hadida concludes. “I, for my part, am happy to be showcasing this type of design, while the students are delighted to be in a place that gives them a taste of real market conditions, and their designs are right at home at The Norm”.

Photo credit: eco-responsible project by Célia Etzol, 1st-year ESMOD Fashion Design student, for The Norm.

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