Exclusive Cover Editorial and Interview: NINObrand
featuring Katie @ Wilhelmina NY
Photographed by Sophie Cécile Xu
Styled by T. Patrick Williams
Hair by B. Campbell (BeautyIs… Salon)
Hair assistant Rochelle Molletta
Makeup by Leisa Kanienberg
All clothing and accessories by NINObrand
Introduction by T. Patrick Williams
Interview by Brandi Spering
Not skipping the detailing and opting for clean lines, NINObrand has found a way to marry subtle textures and unconventional shapes to create completely dreamy, minimalistic street wear for the masses. We wanted to sit down with the brand’s creator, Bela Shehu, to speak with her about the sensory take-over that is NINOBrand.
STARDUST: In your process of creating a piece or collection, are there any habits you have that help you get into your artistic element?
Bela Shehu: There are a few environments that produce more creative ideas than others. I try to get lost in these moments or try to cultivate them and make mad notes while I can. Music shows, solo dance parties at home, and showers are good places to pay attention to the mind schemes.
S: Your designs—the structure, the flow, the chic—seem to be impacted by Asian aesthetics. Are there any influences that have traveled with you that are present in your work?
BS: I’ve always been inspired by geometric shapes and three-dimensional stories. Most of my pieces have one or both of these values. I like to get nerdy with my shapes and proportions while producing wearable and functional garments. I suppose my collection has a feel of a Japanese street uniform. I like everything about that feeling.
S:If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?
BS: Rei Kawakubo and Michele Lamy for sure!
S: I hear that you’ve recently introduced the NINObrand Private Stylist Program. Can you tell us what the program entails?
BS: Our Private Stylist Program is a new way for us to reach our collectors out of town while offering the same individual experience we offer at the atelier. Our collectors will get to view the collection in their area privately via our NINObrand Stylists for a limited time. This will allow them to keep in touch with what we are creating and to inquire their seasonal wardrobe.
S: What standards, as a designer, artist, and female, do you hold for yourself? How does it relate to your business, your outlook on life, and vice versa?
BS: My personal growth and my relationship with self is the most important process I take on everyday. In that space I hold myself responsible for all feelings and experiences and this makes up who I am as an artist or a human. While in the mystery of discovering self, I experience the effect of who I am, compassion, motivation and the full potential of what each one of us is equipped to achieve. This is where I breathe and allow for the most optimal situation to be present for me. I encourage everyone I know to try this.
S: What was the biggest personal obstacle or difficulty you’ve faced throughout your career thus far?
BS: Being away from my family has been a constant obstacle.
S: Do you ever take no for an answer?
BS: I accept an applicable NO much easier at this point in my life. Not everything is worth the battle.
S: What should someone expect when shopping at NINObrand during the one-on-one, shop-by-appointment set-up?
BS: The idea of a private appointment is to allow for a real, long lasting, and enjoyable experience to birth and be cultivated properly. The engagement is intimate and it grants a particular comfort to permit the proper relationship between the collector and the pieces. The collector gets introduced to the process of creating the collection from the source of inspiration to the finished product. This is something very valuable for all our collectors who have been following the culture we have been creating for a few years now.
S: What are your goals for NINObrand to become in the future?
BS: I make clothes for everyday wear so my optimal goal is to become the favorite gear in all our collectors lives and touch lots and lots of lives hahaha.
S: Did NINObrand turn out exactly as you imagined it would?
BS: NINObrand started as part of an experiment, so no real plan ever existed. I wanted to try something and it surprised me with the attention that it deserved and it still does. I honor how demanding it has gotten and hope I can keep up with its potential.