fashion

Career Q&A: Sustainable British-Lebanese jewellery designer, Alexandra Hakim


Known for her
innovative craftsmanship and dedication to sustainability, British-Lebanese
jewellery designer Alexandra Hakim’s creations have been featured in Vogue
Italia and worn by Rihanna. Recently, FashionUnited interviewed Hakim via
email on what inspired her to work with metal and her label’s zero-waste
approach.

This year, brands and retailers have had to face unprecedented
challenges due to the impact of the pandemic on the global economy.
According to consumer data tracker, PSFK Research, the fashion industry is
placing new value on sustainability, circularity and
efficiency.
In this Q&A series, FashionUnited is spotlighting four
sustainable and ethical brands that were already on the path towards a more
socially conscious and circular fashion future.

From discovering desolate shores of Lebanon’s polluted
coastline to the vibrant citrus groves of the Mediterranean, Alexandra
Hakim’s extensive travels have not only been a source of inspiration, but
also led her to discover unique materials for her
jewellery.

Background

In 2016, Alexandra Hakim launched her eponymous brand in Beirut and made
waves on the jewellery scene, gaining the respect of the predominantly male
industry of craftsmen and goldsmiths due to her technical talent and
trademark methods. Now based in Madrid, Hakim first discovered her talent
for jewellery while studying for an Art Foundation at Central Saint Martins
in London. She went on to gain a BFA in Jewellery & Metalsmithing at the
Rhode Island School of Design, where she specialised in design innovation
and developed her collections inspired by sustainability.

Did you always want to be a jewellery maker and work in fashion?

I’ve always been seduced by fine art and the history of art. At school,
I enjoyed making huge contemporary sculptures and colourful paintings. It
wasn’t until I had tried a metals workshop at Central Saint Martins that I
had decided to trade in my paintbrush for a blowtorch, and my clay for
pieces of silver. I began to scale down my sculptures in the form of
wearable jewellery, using the body as a canvas to share my stories.

What’s the greatest part about creating your own sustainable jewellery
brand?

My brand revolves around a zero-waste approach, from concept to design
to execution.
I work from found materials and consumed objects, which would otherwise go
to waste. I take these elements and repurpose them into pieces of
jewellery, giving them a new lease on life in a way that preserves every
detail of the original material. The beauty of working in metal is that it
can be melted down almost endlessly so that nothing goes to waste. In that
sense, the jewellery making process naturally lends itself to
sustainability!

Career Q&A: Sustainable British-Lebanese jewellery designer, Alexandra Hakim

What’s the most challenging part?

I make everything by hand so that each piece is unique and authentic.
The idea of creating something new everyday is the most exciting part of my
work, but also the most challenging. It involves high levels of focus, a
lot of trial and error, and good craftsmanship. Today, the importance of
craftsmanship seems to be undervalued, but for me, it is essential to my
brand’s DNA.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

Learn when to say no. Not every opportunity is worth taking. It’s human
nature to feel inclined to take on all of the interesting opportunities
that come your way. But with time, especially as an emerging designer, you
realise that it’s an exercise of self-discipline. Although collaborations
and events are important, it’s about knowing which ones are worth saying
yes to without spreading yourself too thin.

Hakim’s signature method involves casting found objects and
used materials directly into precious metals so that nothing is
wasted.

What do you envision for the future of your brand?

My dream is to have my own physical store/open studio – an experimental
space to really connect with clients and to expose the behind the scenes of
the brand. I like the idea of full transparency in an industry that seems
to hide so much information from its consumers.

What is your go-to sustainable fashion look?

Vintage denim and a pair of gold Alexandra Hakim earrings.

Read more from this series:

Photos: courtesy of Alexandra Hakim, ASV



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