Former Grazia alum Leen Nizameddin is the Dubai-based designer behind Sound On Streetwear which upcycles pre-loved vintage pieces to turn them into fresh and contemporary athleisure wear. She's now caught the attention of Nike who's enlisted her in the launch of the new Vapormax 2020 sneaker that's made from 50 per cent recycled materials, and we couldn’t be more hyped for this local collaboration which pairs style with sustainability, and fashion with creative freedom.
Leen explains, "Soon after launching, my perspective of the fashion industry quickly began shifting as I realised the environmental responsibility brand owners must carry when figuring out their production process. I knew I wanted to produce locally and sustainably by making a limited number of inventory and selecting low-waste or recycled fabrics for the production of my clothing, but I struggled to find a lot of trustworthy manufacturers that followed the same vision."
Leen continues, "This ultimately led me to take matters into my own hands and start upcycling as a means of cutting the production process completely out. I now rework vintage, pre-loved and dead-stock materials into new designs that are one-of-a-kind, handmade and 100 per cent sustainable."
When it came to discovering her passion, she reflects, "Ever since I was a child, I’ve always had a knack for upcycling. I used to take my older sisters hand-me-downs and transform them into something new to better suit my style. After learning how to sew, I immediately began experimenting with old or unwanted clothes from my closet by reworking them into something modern and trendy."
The designer admits, "My creative process is very therapeutic for me; I take the time to really think about the potential that each second-hand fabric may offer and how I can best utilise it before cutting anything up. What I enjoy most about upcycling is the freedom and innovation offered when creating each piece. I’ve turned windbreakers into track pants, jackets into bags, and fabric scraps into a cohesive item of clothing."
And now her focus as paid off: "What started off as a passion project has now taken off into my own little business as more and more individuals have been reaching out through Instagram to purchase an upcycled piece or even create their own customised designs."
This week, Leen will join forces with Nike’s latest campaign, Move to Zero, which is focusing on sustainability by promoting zero waste and zero carbon production. On Thursday 23 July at the launch of the Nike Air Vapormax 2020 at the Nike store in the Mall of the Emirates, for every purchase made in store, customers will receive an upcycled face masks Leen created using only Nike football jerseys from their dead-stock pieces.
Spoiler alert: "When creating the designs for my upcycled masks I knew I needed to really translate that concept into reality in a simple yet innovative way. My first design, the white and purple one, follows a sustainable approach towards consumerism by creating timeless and minimalistic pieces that are made to last. My second design is a little more abstract and disruptive as I used the contrast of green against a white background to showcase how different textures and tones may marry well together, similar to up-cycling. My last design, the double Swoosh, pays tribute to the campaign by creating the numerical digit Zero using the iconic Nike swoosh."
Leen observes, "All three masks really highlight the innovation and creativity upcycling can bring forth, similar to Nike’s ethos which works to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete."
Get your hands on one of Leen's custom masks by heading down to Mall of the Emirates between 10am and 6pm this Thursday. Team Grazia will see you in the queue!