It was a mix of her frustration with the fashion industry and a critical reflection on her own consumption patterns that led All Amin in 2019 to establish her fashion label—HARAM. Since then, the Kurdish artist has been deconstructing discarded trainers and transforming them into unusual and futuristic statement pieces that are most likely not your first association when you think of sustainable fashion.
Hi All! To start, could you please introduce yourself and your brand to our readers? How did you find your way into fashion?
My name is All Amin, and I'm a Kurdish artist from Berlin. As the founder and creative force behind HARAM, I started specialising my craft in sneaker upcycling in 2019. My innovative creations bridge the gap between high fashion as a political statement and an artistic object. My mission with Haram is to shatter the conventional image of sustainable fashion and shine a brighter light on the importance of upcycling.
My path to fashion wasn't straightforward. I used to work on construction sites before I decided to do something more creative and study fashion design. I dropped out of my fashion studies after a few semesters and moved to Berlin, where I decided to start my own thing, far away from institutions. That's how HARAM came to life.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration behind HARAM and why you chose to focus on sneaker upcycling as your niche?
My frustration sparked my inspiration. I didn't feel like the regular way clothes were made aligned with my economic standpoint. This led me to dive into upcycling designs, a response to that feeling of disconnection. My original drive undoubtedly came from my passion for sneakers and my decision to create long-lasting styling accessories from my own old sneaker collection. I appreciate the playful approach this medium allows. Sneakers ignite my creativity the most due to their shapes, textures, and diverse palette of colours. Working with kicks allows me a sense of creative liberation that's, for me, unmatched by other materials.
Let’s talk about the name of your brand. HARAM is the Arabic word for forbidden or sin. How does that relate to your label?
HARAM has a deeply personal origin, but its initial purpose was to establish a strong presence in the fashion industry with a distinctive Middle Eastern identity. In my view, HARAM can be seen as a synonym for fashion. Looking at the bigger picture, modern fashion consumption can be deemed HARAM due to its negative effects on the environment and people. The irony is intriguing, as some sneaker enthusiasts playfully label my work as HARAM, jokingly referring to the dissection of their cherished sneakers.
What issues do you currently see in eco-fashion, and how are you trying to overcome them with HARAM?
My concern with eco-fashion lies in the fact that even when labeled as eco-friendly, starting a design from scratch still consumes resources in material production. In response, I take a different approach by repurposing discarded materials from other brands, turning them into resilient, new objects with a longer lifespan. Additionally, I aspire to challenge and reshape the usual aesthetic linked with sustainable fashion. Instead of adhering to the familiar eco-centric look that consumers expect, I strive to craft designs that are both environmentally conscious and visually appealing, expanding on the idea of what sustainable fashion can truly embody.
How do you source the sneakers for your upcycling process, and what criteria do you consider when selecting the sneakers to work with?
I gather donations from my community, and my primary source for secondhand sneakers is buying them online from reseller websites. The criteria vary depending on the final product I have in mind. If I'm not using the sole part, the sneaker can be completely worn out. However, if I plan to incorporate the sole into my design, it needs to be in good condition.
So then, what's the process? How do you transform the raw material into your futuristic designs?
First, I always wash everything carefully, ensuring there's no dirt on the used sneakers, and then I begin taking them apart. The material serves as my compass throughout the entire creative journey. I break away from the usual method of drawing or carefully planning my designs. Instead, I rely on the graceful movement of the materials to lead me, letting my instincts determine the direction. Everything I do is very freestyle.
Your pieces remind me of the work of the Dutch artist Tenant of Culture. Do you consider your bags and wearables artworks, or does the focus lie on their functionality?
I view my fashion creations as wearable pieces of art. As a result, I strive to make them as practical as possible for my customers. I'm passionate about infusing street style with a more artistic flair.
HARAM is Berlin-based. How does the city's fashion and art scene influence the brand's identity and creative process?
I wouldn't say that the Berlin creative scene has such an influence on my brand's identity. I don't really have a lot of creative exchange when it comes to my work. I'm one of those artists who live in their own heads and retire until the work is finished (laughs).
What is your vision for a more sustainable future in the fashion industry, and how do you see HARAM contributing to that vision?
I believe that by adopting a more playful and creative approach, focusing solely on deconstructing existing fashion items, we have the potential to push the boundaries of the fashion industry and significantly conserve resources. With HARAM, I push the upcycling agenda far more into the mainstream from a niche practice by breaking through the stereotypical image of sustainable fashion. Noticing how differently people perceived upcycling after seeing my range of designs, I realised how much potential upcycling has in the sustainability discussion. 
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I'm excited to announce that the prices for my products will become more affordable! Until now, I've been sewing almost everything by hand, but that will change once my industrial machine is up and running. Get ready for more HARAM products hitting the streets!