I love watching an artist’s evolution over the years. In 2012, I met with Noava Knight for Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week. She was working on a new collection of apparel for one of the runway shows.
Almost four years later, I met with her again in her new studio in Oak Bluffs, but this time to talk with her about her newest endeavor, Humane Imperfection. Humane Imperfection is a collection of bags designed by Noava featuring wax cotton and Woolrich wool fabric.
Last year, while she was the program director for the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop (Chicken Alley), she began Humane Imperfection, first designing clothes and then adding bags.
Noava has been in the world of sewing and design since she was little. This community is pretty tight knit (hehehe) on the Island. In the 90’s, Valerie Beggs was a high-end designer on Martha’s Vineyard who went to work at Barney’s in New York doing women’s wear design. Valerie was also friends with Noava and her mom.
Valerie eventually went on to work with the iconic company, Woolrich. It was at the Woolrich factory in Pennsylvania that magic happened. Noava went to see Valerie. It was here that she got a bunch of Woolrich castoffs and began to create backpacks.
Noava saw so much waste and consumerism while working at the thrift shop, and it was rewarding to create something beautiful and useful from things that might otherwise be disposed of. Plus, Woolrich wool is so beautiful!
She continued to work and design for Humane Imperfection. Her bags were getting a great response, and at the end of the year, she decided it was time to focus full time on her business.
People were so sad to hear that she was leaving Chicken Alley. She had somehow elevated the coolness factor of the little thrift shop. However, she couldn’t do both.
Why the name Humane Imperfection? As mentioned, Noava was constantly being surround by so much stuff that people didn’t want, the waste of consumerism. She wanted to try to create things in a more humane way, a conscious way. Trying to have a zero waste line, but that’s not possible just yet. So, you’re committed to doing the best you can, but it’s not perfect. It’s Humane Imperfection
In the Bag
For me, it’s been fun to watch what Noava has been creating with her bags on Instagram. Being a person of interest and model-like beauty, her pics are alway cool. I’ve admired the backpacks, there are 5 different colors, which could be found at Citrine, Slip 77 and Hudson Clothier, but it’s her new wax cotton collection that really caught my eye.
First, I love the wax cotton bags she’s been showing. Think well worn Barbour jackets meet chic bag design. There are currently 5 styles and more are being developed.
Noava chose wax cotton because there’s a certain level of style to it that blows nylon away. It’s clean and classic, and appeals to both men and women. Also, it’s a good alternative to leather. It’s luxurious in its own way and is super sturdy, able to stand up to the elements.
The wax cotton bags are Noava’s way to create something that is clean and organized, which she aspires to attain in life too.
The designs come out of sleepless nights when Noava maps out how to create the right seam or strap for her bags. In her Oak Bluffs studio, which is so bright and open, enables her to follow through on her designs.
Also, she is able to focus on her work. Recently married, her husband is a partner in the business with her. He helps achieve a balance of work and play in her life. His support is integral to her being able to create. This a business that they’re invested into.
Whatever she’s doing, it’s working. Her Humane Imperfection bags stand out. Her evolution as a designer can be seen in her Spring/Summer collection. Hopefully, the collection will be available for sale in the late Spring. I know that I am currently stalking a Humane Imperfection bag.
really like the patterns against the solid cotton. There’s one that reminds me of a city skyline, and if she ever creates something with the orange wax cotton, I would be so excited. I love orange, and I don’t think I’ve ever scene orange wax cotton!
Importing/Exporting Martha’s Vineyard Style
So, Humane Imperfection’s collection is designed on the Island and the samples are created in Noava’s Oak Bluffs studio. However, the collection will not be made on the Island.
At this point, I have to bring the story back to Valerie again. She has recently retired from Woolrich and is now working with Noava on Humane Imperfection. She does in-house design for Noava at a factory in Pennsylvania.
Noava creates the samples from soup to nuts, and then works with Valerie to get them produced. Though Noava would love to have everything made on the Island, it’s just not feasible. Sewing has been a dying art in America, however it’s one that is being brought back.
Just creating things like the bags of Humane Imperfection is a big financial task, but it’s important to Noava as a designer to have things made here. Also, the bags being produced are high quality. Noava herself might not be there to oversea them all, but Valerie is, and there’s a strong level of trust and commitment.
For Noava, it’s such a gift to be able to have the freedom and support the Vineyard offers. She has been able to continue to grow and her fashion evolution has been visible and well documented on the Island.
She has faith in Humane Imperfection. Live the Expression of what you want — that’s where she is and she has never been happier.
Noava’s story is one that is full of inspiration and perhaps she will inspire others too.
Look for Humane Imperfection late Spring at various Island stores and some in America too. I know that I can’t wait to get one! I would’t be surprised if Woolrich or someplace like Anthropologie carries Humane Imperfection someday.
*Special thanks to Timothy Johnson and his amazing photos of Humane Imperfection (you can find more on the Humane Imperfection website).
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