A journey Into the World of Leather Label || Nour Hammour

Nour Hammour

Nour Hammour doesn’t talk much.. As fashion brands the world over attempt to raise their voices over all the noise created by the media, the Nour Hammour label much prefers to leave the talking to their striking and well-designed leather jackets.  Take a quick scroll through their beautiful, newly-minted website and it will take you on an editorial journey of their products that speaks more than a thousand words.  As far as ‘about’ pages go, theirs is certainly the shortest and most concise.  Yet five minutes into their online platform and you know exactly who they are, simply because, they know who they are..  When I asked the duo who they design for they said “She is independent.  She is comfortable with who she is, and most importantly, she doesn’t take herself too seriously.” Their response intrigued me simply because it was almost a perfect description of their brand.  They are their own customer, and I believe there is magic in that.

After years of creating made-to-measure leather jackets for friends and family, Nour Hammour was officially launched in 2013 by co-founders Erin Conry Webb and Nour Hammour whose paths originally crossed at Instituto Marangoni.  “When we started in 2013, the same 2-3 leather ‘hero’ jackets were worn by all the IT-girls in Paris.  We wanted to create a niche brand of leather jackets for women that made them stand out from a crowd,” they explain.  The Paris-based company has been on a steady slow-cook mode, that has seen it flourish in a sustainable way.

 

Nour Hammour

 

There were two jolts along the way though..good ones!

When the brand first launched, it was immediately embraced at Paris fashion week by Kendall Jenner, followed by a slew of celebrity models including Bella Hadid and Hailey Beiber.  Why this specific leather jacket you may ask?  In a conversation with WWD the duo clarified that, “leather jackets have long been a staple but up until a certain point you’d only see either these stiff, rigid, hard motorcycle jackets that are really hard to wear, and make it impossible to move comfortably, or the super-short, super-stretched little jacket.  We saw a niche for us, in creating these statement-looking pieces that were also really wearable, and soft that you’d want to keep on the whole day.”  With a strong focus on customized fit, sourcing of the softest leather and unique details, the Nour Hammour label was born.

Almost over-night the little known company was catapulted into the limelight as the Model-Off-Duty brand.  If it weren’t for the firm’s solid footing in terms of production, this blessing could just as quickly turned into a curse. With demand at a boiling point, many companies are unable to fulfill their orders resulting in mayhem and often times bankruptcy.  A story we have seen with brands worn by Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

The second jolt of adrenaline came in 2020 during one of the worst years for the fashion industry in decades.  Sales at NH not only held on to their pre-covid figures but actually shot through the roof.  “During Covid-19 we saw our sales literally take off. We watched in amazement, as we were [selling] 10 times as much as our pre-Covid-19 sales goal,” they shared with WWD.

 

Nour Hammour

 

As we lounged in our sweats whilst in lockdown, many women were reassessing their purchasing habits and making worthy investments in timeless yet exciting pieces, and for many, Nour Hammour was the investment of choice.  “I think women wanted to invest in their wardrobe with a beautiful heirloom piece – customized to their perfect fit- and leather is one of the only materials that actually gets better with time,” said Conry Webb.

Again, with the severe lockdown in Paris at the start of the pandemic, the company would not have been able to fulfill the orders if it hadn’t been for an intelligent overnight production detour to Turkey that allowed the show to go on.

When I think about fashion brands, regardless of their stage of maturity I believe that one of the hardest things to gauge is customer sincerity.  Which I define as a true desire to purchase a product based on a reliable and understandable thought process, unaffected by transient factors such as media and celebrity endorsements.  There is a lot of fear in fashion because it is very difficult to forecast growth due to the multitude of external factors that could affect your standing.  Which is precisely why brands tend to protect themselves by producing a relatively broad scope of product, with an internal conversation that usually goes something like this “If the shoes flop, the bags will sustain us, and the perfumes are always a safe bet.”  With Nour Hammour, the opposite was true, the label’s focused approach, was one of the reasons they could keep evolving and growing during the pandemic, despite the uncertainty.

“2020 was a remarkable year; but we definitely experienced growing pains.  When Covid hit, we struggled with boutiques cancelling their orders and we had to postpone an entire season of pop-ups.  But we began to see an extraordinary occurrence as each country shuttered its borders.  Our clients began to order our most intricate and spectacularly embellished jacket: The Saturday.  At a time when the whole world was staying home and wearing sweatpants, we found that women were investing in a leather jacket that they wanted to keep forever.  To us, that is the most sustainable type of buying.” They shared with us at CIIN.

 

Nour Hammour

 

With Nour Hammour this customer sincerity was proven not once but twice, which allowed for a certain confidence to ‘keep going’, and also allowed them the freedom to spread their creative wings.  The thing is, the duo Erin and Nour keep their ears close to the ground, fully aware of their customers likes, dislikes and preferences. They take the time to engage and communicate with clients be it in pop-ups, trunk shows and now even Instagram, it is a personal relationship that is forged with the purchase of jacket and for me this is the foundation of their business model.

“Being close to our client has been our way since day one.  We meet women at our pop-up events, at our Paris showroom and now over Instagram.  What’s amazing is that it happens in real time with women all over the world.  We help them choose the perfect jacket for their body, to customizing a jacket for an anniversary gift.  Buying one of our jackets is a lot like buying a beautiful piece of jewelry; it is an investment piece that is extremely personal.  We are nurturing what we hope to be a lifelong relationship with our client – and they are helping us understand what women want – with an immediacy that is unparalleled.” They shared with us.  “Even as we are designing a piece, we’ll send them a photo to tell them, “You are going to love this!!” It’s such a fun and modern way to design and sell.”

Nafsika Skourti hosted a pop up in Amman for the Nour Hammour label back in March, ’21, and due to popular demand they will be back again in the fall!

“Even as we are designing a piece, we’ll send them a photo to tell them, “You are going to love this!!” It’s such a fun and modern way to design and sell.”

 

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So why doesn’t everyone else do that, you may ask?  Because its costly; it means you need to stay relatively lean in order to pivot as needed, you need to grow steadily with your client, and you need to afford a customized approach which doesn’t necessary look great on the books in the short term.  That’s why I called it a slow-cook, due to a lack of predictability in the fashion world, many companies opt for a faster more commercial approach, that clearly works but lacks true understanding and engagement of their customer.

I believe the Nour Hammour label got the memo a couple of years earlier that everyone else.  As fashion labels start to consider reworking their business model to include a more personalized approach, the NH brand took a step back from big department store partnerships long before the pandemic hit and the wholesale model became an industry-wide issue. “We felt ourselves swept up in the demand of the large orders, designing more collections, and we started to feel farther away from our clients.”  The Nour Hammour model was always built on zero inventory, once an order is placed the product is made, with a 3-5 day turnaround time, again a concept fashion labels are only recently starting to consider.

As for sustainability: ditto..

The Nour Hammour brand follows a sustainable, no-waste approach.  All their leather is a by-product of the meat industry.  They have also initiated a zero-waste concept named Recut, that repurposes the surplus leather from production into small leather goods and accessories.

 

Nour Hammour

 

So how many leather jacket ideas can you seriously come up with, you may ask?  The label tows a very fine line between consistency and innovation in design.  The jackets are at once, timeless yet modern and original.  When asked they shared, “Our focus is designing outerwear that makes women feel empowered, beautiful and comfortable.  Outside of that we don’t have a rulebook!” The brand has been spreading their creative wings with the incorporation of shearling and long coats into their repertoire.  “At the beginning of a new collection, we have a strong concept of what we want to be wearing ourselves, and the collection evolves from there.  Once we decide on color ways, silhouettes and perfect the letter treatment for each garment, we combine the design aspect with what we’ve learned from our clients.  How the client wants to FEEL when they wear our leather.”

It feels like a lifetime ago that I sought out the Nour Hammour stand at Tranoi, the famous Parisian trade fair.  It was 2015, and I wanted to meet this label with an Arabic name, that had attracted the attention of Kendell Jenner!  There they were Erin and Nour, much as I assume they are today: sweet and sincere, focused and curious and throughly modern in their approach to fashion. They have created their own playbook; using intuition, passion and most importantly their loyal customer as a dependable compass. What a joy it has been to see them shine so brilliantly x

 

Photographer: Walter Pierre 

Stylist: Constant De Boer

Assistant Stylist: Fleur van der Schiit

Model: Simone Van Werkhoven

Hair and Make-up: Laura Yard