Founded in 2017, Nöl Collective is a community feminist group and fashion house sourcing apparel and accessories from women-run collectives and brands around Palestine.
Nöl Collective first came to prominence with the bold slogan “Not your habibti” emblazoned on clothing in protest against street harassment faced by women. Founding designer Yasmeen Mjalli coined the phrase after seeing streetwear reading, “Not your baby,” substituting an Arabic term of affection for women in acknowledgment of her Palestinian roots, and in defiance of unwanted verbal abuse that impacts women of all backgrounds.
From there, Mjalli evolved Nöl Collective into a boutique fashion collective contextualized by a political, feminist framework. Their garments and textiles are produced hyperlocally, in part because of logistical challenges relating to the occupation, and sourced from women-led cooperatives, artisans, and family businesses across Palestine. Clothing items designed in Gaza, Palestinian territory bordering Egypt and the Mediterranean sea, have to be sent to Ramallah, a city in the West Bank legally under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Separated by border walls, security checkpoints, and territorial disputes, the teams never meet but still find ways to create garments together.
Nöl Collective aims to educate its consumers about traditional Palestinian textile-making practices, listing the fabric history of select pieces on their website, and the origins of others. Some clothing is listed as limited or one-time-only editions, made from deadstock fabrics unable to be replicated. Using surplus fabric from larger brands and avoiding overproduction has also enabled Nöl Collective to reduce its carbon footprint. The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter, right behind oil production, and upcycling fabrics is one way to incorporate environmental responsibility into clothing production.
The label was originally called “BabyFist,” but changed its name in September 2020. Mjalli chose nöl, the Arabic word for loom, to represent the collective because it represents slow fashion, as well as the collective process required to make each item of clothing.
Know Before You Go
Nöl Collective ships globally, though items may be delayed because of export challenges relating to the occupation, and Covid-19. They have two brick-and-mortar locations, their original store in Ramallah (currently open by appointment only) and another in Hilweh Market in Yaffa.