If you're a fan of sustainable fashion and sneaker culture, chances are you'll be familiar with Berlin-based upcycling designer All Amin, owner of independent label Haram. At first, the multidisciplinary artist drew inspiration from a past life of working at Footlocker, until she began to look to her own personal collection as a source for upcycling projects.
"I decided to deconstruct [my sneakers] because they were no longer suitable for resale. I saw my own collection as a resource for upcycling, and out of all the items, working with sneakers brought me the most enjoyment," the artist tells Hypebae. Through the art of deconstruction, Amin garnered a distinctive aesthetic that merges the best of sneaker culture with femme fashion through a futuristic lens.
Drawing inspiration from her dual heritage, the designer continues to expand her creative empire with traditional elements. "I have a deep desire to honor the rich Kurdish traditions without necessarily conforming to Western norms just for the sake of modernization," Amin explains.
For our newest instalment of Baes With Kicks, we spoke to Haram about the inspiration behind the label's cult-loved designs, what the typical creative process entails and what the designer's plans for the future hold.
Read our exclusive interview below.
Name: All Amin aka Haram
Tell us a bit about your sneaker collection. How many pairs do you own?
Ever since I started reworking sneakers, the boundary between my personal footwear and the pairs I own for upcycling has become quite subtle. At the moment, my collection comprises slightly over 50 pairs!
What sparked your interest in sneakers and their design, where did it all begin?
My connection with sneakers really developed during my time working at Footlocker. During that period, I ended up purchasing a tonne of sneakers myself, until years down the line, I decided to deconstruct them because they were no longer suitable for resale. I saw my own collection as a resource for upcycling, and out of all the items, working with sneakers brought me the most enjoyment.
At what point did you decide to start customizing and deconstructing them and turning them into bags?
The idea of crafting a sneaker bag that complements my kicks seemed like a perfect direction to explore. In 2022, I made my very first handbag prototype as an art piece for Puma. Turning the idea into something ready to sell took a lot of time and hard work. I didn't just want it to look nice; I also wanted it to work well and be really well-made. My main goal was to create something functional and beautifully crafted, going beyond just how it looks.
What can you tell us about your creative process, how do you go about starting a new project?
The material itself acts as my guiding light throughout the entire process. I forgo the traditional approach of sketching or carefully planning my designs. Instead, I rely on the graceful drape of the materials and let my intuition pave the way. Confidence in myself is key, as I always work without patterns. I like to explore things I haven't even thought about before. Starting with a fixed plan actually stifles my creativity. So, I just go with the flow and trust that the process will spark new ideas along the way. Pressure usually ends up blocking creativity, and I think it's like that pesky little thing that messes with our creative mojo.
There's such an incredible level of detail in every piece that you create, how long does a project typically take you? What's the longest you've spent creating a piece?
It all depends on how I'm feeling and how excited I am to create. Usually, I spend around one to three days coming up with a new design. But the designs that take the most time are my headpieces, especially getting the head shape just right – that can really take a while. The longest I've ever spent was a whole week on my latest sneaker headpiece, making sure every little detail was perfect.
Where does your visual inspiration come from? How does your cultural background inform your designs?
Lately, I've been drawing a lot of inspiration from my roots, aiming to embrace Kurdish elements within the realm of fashion and giving them a fresh interpretation that resonates with me. I have a deep desire to honor the rich Kurdish traditions without necessarily conforming to Western norms just for the sake of modernization. Growing up in two different cultures has given me a special way of looking at things. I mix futuristic ideas with old traditions to show who I am. I want to keep doing this more in the future, blending new and old together.
What's your favorite piece that you've created so far and why?
Currently, I'm really excited about my latest creation, the HARAM Pleaser Heel. It's a design I've recently crafted and haven't published yet. I'm thrilled because I've made a custom pair for Nicki Minaj, and there's a chance she might showcase them in her upcoming music video...
That's so exciting! We'll have to keep an eye out. Finally, what's next for you? Do you see yourself expanding into other areas of design?
Expect to discover a wider range of HARAM fashion items in the future, including jewelry, press-on nails, and hairpieces. Stay tuned for my expanding collection!