It’s one of the most unexpected releases from Bahrain’s leading luxury handbag designer. This month, Noof Al Shekar, creative director and founder of NS by Noof, previewed a new collection of sustainable handbags made from recycled ocean plastic waste. Slated for release in late summer 2021, the denim accessories signal a marked departure for Al Shekar, who is best known for bespoke bags made from exotic snakeskin, lambskin, alligator and Italian leathers, and encased in precious metals.
“I started my brand 10 years ago with the idea of creating exclusive and unique pieces,” says Al Shekar. “I use lots of exotic skins and different semi-precious stones to produce one-of-a-kind bags. With what’s happening around us, like global warming and climate change, I felt I had to contribute to help and try to make a difference in the world and set a good example for my kids and young designers.”
To that end, Al Shekar looked at eco-friendly options for a new collection of bags. “I was doing my research regarding ocean plastic waste for the past two years,” she says. “The idea came from my son AlHussain. His dream is to invent a machine that cleans the ocean from plastic waste and bottles. So I really looked into helping make his dream come true.”
While still capturing the NS by Noof ethos, the handmade bags exude a more casual vibe, mainly due to their denim look and visible stitching. The new sustainable items include a cross body bag with a denim strap and a chain handle made from organic resin.
Does this latest collection mean that NS by Noof will one day use only sustainable materials for all upcoming products? “Yes,” says Al Shekar, “and maybe sooner than we think with all the shifts happening around us. I would love to be a pioneer in this area. What I really hope is that factories will produce these materials in the [MENA] region to encourage up-and-coming brands to be sustainable.”