Turning Heads: When Fashion Meets Art, Ethical Practice and 90s Basketball Aesthetic
With an upbringing in New York City, Nomia Founder, Yara Flinn's collections are a new-age scrapbook, with an ethical and sustainable ethos at the core.

Yara Flinn is tall, slim, and effortlessly cool. Her lean, statuesque physique recalls more of a magical being, a woman out of a Modigliani painting rather than a fashion designer. Though, who knows what a fashion designer is supposed to look like? With no surprise, her name, Yara, derives from a part of Brazilian mythology meaning “Lady of the Lake”, a mermaid. Her delicate features play the role. Her fairy-like posture and elegance juxtaposed with her New York demeanor set the tone for her androgynous, ageless brand Nomia. A name which doubles as inspiration and self-expression as it describes a water spirit picked from Greek mythology. Yara launched her brand in 2007 after spending time at Fondazione Prada, working at their Manhattan office. There, she figured out what she liked most about art was making it.


She attempted to enroll in a sculpture program but didn’t get in, so she ventured off into the world of fashion. She started with a small handmade collection she designed and produced after attending a crash course in pattern making. Over 13 years, Yara has been able to establish her brand as a collection of utilitarian staples. Nomia is inspired by powerful, multi-faceted women that are not afraid to mix and match. If you scroll through Yara’s Instagram, you’ll immediately be able to recognize her personality. Her designs ooze it. The designer’s social media blurs the line between her work and personal life, providing a window into her mind. 
Essentially, Nomia is a collection of memories, self-portraits, and vintage inspirations. It reminds me of a new-age scrapbook or creative storage box.

Instagram is where I first learned about Nomia, maybe around 2013. What first drew me to her, aside from the workwear-inspired pieces, was the raw simplicity and spontaneity issued by her digital presence. 
Yara is as real as it gets; there is no filter. Growing up in the streets of New York, she absorbed its essence, experimenting with goth and raver style but also making space for sports influences and the baggage of rap music. Her spirit embodies that of a true city girl, though she points out that she was born in Wisconsin and moved to Manhattan at four years old. “You know, New Yorkers are very protective about that,” she joked on our call. Her voice is warm, slightly raspy. The kind that makes you comfortable and is perfect for a witty podcast on culture. Her amiability and accessibility are what make Nomia such a relevant brand.

Despite the small-sized, local operation, Yara seems to be able to navigate even the most troubled waters. Her first collection appeared on Barney’s racks shortly before the big economic crash happened in 2008. 
So, as the COVID-19 outbreak and global pandemic bring us back to similar times, I’m curious to know her take on staying afloat. “Small businesses have less fixed costs and are mostly transparent about their supply chain. Unlike huge corporations, we shouldn’t try to rely on archive sales and markdowns. Our production is limited, and what I personally try to do is challenge the minimums imposed to avoid overproduction” she answers, “True creativity is what we need at the moment. Only specialty stores and boutiques can provide that. During trying times, we are forced to be resourceful. That sparks innovation. Companies will need to refine their models and scale things down”, she adds.

She’s hopeful society will stop and think about its toxic behaviors: overproduction, overconsumption, and the vicious cycle of pumping out products for the sake of profit and margin. Fast-paced trends and inconsiderate demand are what’s exhausting the fashion industry. Despite her positive outlook, Yara doesn’t have much confidence that the industry will actually apply beneficial changes as we are running on an outdated calendar and schedule that was already suffering before the virus. Her passion for increased sustainability is proven by her craft and the steps she takes to ensure high standards and quality. “I mostly work with local factories owned by women, which I visit and audit personally.” She makes a point to clarify that she’s not where she would like to be when it comes to sustainability. “I don’t say this to shrug accountability off, but it takes a lot of research and resources to run a fully sustainable business.”

Like her brand, Yara is honest and authentic. She often speaks out against injustice and on social issues. She’s very vocal about the initiatives she supports. 
Recently, Yara reposted the story of Patty, a disabled artist based in Los Angeles who, during the outbreak, hasn’t been able to access proper care and is running a crowdfunding campaign to help her medical bills, prompting her 21,000+ followers to donate. In the wake of phony activism, the designer showcases genuine action to raise awareness of marginalized causes. Furthermore, Nomia is a vegan and fur-free brand, and she makes a significant effort in sourcing organic materials, for the most part. The hard work, care, and time put behind building the perfect item can be seen clearly throughout her collections. They’re usually characterized by supple textures and structural heels reminiscent of a Brancusi sculpture. 

When I look at Nomia, it’s hard to discern the two. “I tend to look at fashion as a communication tool. Your clothes are a representation of who you are, and if you feed into the prepackaged styles that are pushed onto us by the web now, I don’t think that makes you a very interesting person. Downtown skateboarders, basketball players in the ’80s. Have you seen the Last Dance? The oversized suits, Micheal Jordan berets … they were dressed so well back then!”

Needless to say, the ’80s and early ’90s were totally different eras. The style was unbiased and based on personal research. The chance to be passively influenced came from the real interactions you had in the street and the use you made of paper magazines, rather than being pushed upon us by subtle marketing schemes and data collection. In 2013, the brand presented a pair of reworked basketball shorts. “I was referencing Allen Iverson’s style with that. The dramatic size of his pants was so elegant to me”, she doesn’t hide that her next collection might be inspired by basketball once again. The mention is validated by the fact that Yara played basketball while in high school. Yara believes teenagehood is a pivotal time in life. What you like at 16 sets the tone for the rest of your existence. I think it’s hard not to agree.

Rap also plays a significant role in her references. Nowadays, she uses jazz to nurture creativity. The simplicity yet depth of the sound created using only a few acoustic instruments layered on top of each other is a metaphor for the brand itself. Nomia sticks to a sophisticated, minimalist vision. “That’s what makes you stand out. Being assertive and confident in your choices.”, she claims.

Two years ago, she became a mother. When asked if her motherhood brought changes to her approach to fashion design, she mentions how her brand has never been about sexy cuts or tight proportions, so her creations have always been tailored to any kind of woman. “Although it made me think about the approach to cleaning a garment!” It led her to look for washable fabrics that aren’t easily damaged. Also, she finds her color palette has become more vibrant these days. Fashion and motherhood are a collaborative effort.

This time of reclusion has allowed Yara to reflect on how she wants Nomia to evolve and create a more dedicated experience for her clients. “The uncertain period we are living in has made me want to connect with my clientele more closely. I am thinking about online exclusives and how to offer custom pieces for the direct consumer.” Given the economic hardship we are facing, even the conscious fashion audience will begin to look for special edition pieces that will allow them to feel special and unique. Brands will need to establish a new level of consumer loyalty and trust by providing tailored solutions to seal the transaction.

As our conversation reaches its 40th minute, and my phone starts to heat up in my hand, I ask Yara what her wish is for the future. She hopes to see people educate themselves during this trying period, ultimately creating a better world. Before I cut the call, she hits me with a lively, energic “Grazie! Ciao!” because not only is Yara a mind-blowing, well-rounded woman, she’s also bilingual.

Turning Heads: When Fashion Meets Art, Ethical Practice and 90s Basketball Aesthetic
With an upbringing in New York City, Nomia Founder, Yara Flinn's collections are a new-age scrapbook, with an ethical and sustainable ethos at the core.

Yara Flinn is tall, slim, and effortlessly cool. Her lean, statuesque physique recalls more of a magical being, a woman out of a Modigliani painting rather than a fashion designer. Though, who knows what a fashion designer is supposed to look like? With no surprise, her name, Yara, derives from a part of Brazilian mythology meaning “Lady of the Lake”, a mermaid. Her delicate features play the role. Her fairy-like posture and elegance juxtaposed with her New York demeanor set the tone for her androgynous, ageless brand Nomia. A name which doubles as inspiration and self-expression as it describes a water spirit picked from Greek mythology. Yara launched her brand in 2007 after spending time at Fondazione Prada, working at their Manhattan office. There, she figured out what she liked most about art was making it.


She attempted to enroll in a sculpture program but didn’t get in, so she ventured off into the world of fashion. She started with a small handmade collection she designed and produced after attending a crash course in pattern making. Over 13 years, Yara has been able to establish her brand as a collection of utilitarian staples. Nomia is inspired by powerful, multi-faceted women that are not afraid to mix and match. If you scroll through Yara’s Instagram, you’ll immediately be able to recognize her personality. Her designs ooze it. The designer’s social media blurs the line between her work and personal life, providing a window into her mind. 
Essentially, Nomia is a collection of memories, self-portraits, and vintage inspirations. It reminds me of a new-age scrapbook or creative storage box.

Instagram is where I first learned about Nomia, maybe around 2013. What first drew me to her, aside from the workwear-inspired pieces, was the raw simplicity and spontaneity issued by her digital presence. 
Yara is as real as it gets; there is no filter. Growing up in the streets of New York, she absorbed its essence, experimenting with goth and raver style but also making space for sports influences and the baggage of rap music. Her spirit embodies that of a true city girl, though she points out that she was born in Wisconsin and moved to Manhattan at four years old. “You know, New Yorkers are very protective about that,” she joked on our call. Her voice is warm, slightly raspy. The kind that makes you comfortable and is perfect for a witty podcast on culture. Her amiability and accessibility are what make Nomia such a relevant brand.

Despite the small-sized, local operation, Yara seems to be able to navigate even the most troubled waters. Her first collection appeared on Barney’s racks shortly before the big economic crash happened in 2008. 
So, as the COVID-19 outbreak and global pandemic bring us back to similar times, I’m curious to know her take on staying afloat. “Small businesses have less fixed costs and are mostly transparent about their supply chain. Unlike huge corporations, we shouldn’t try to rely on archive sales and markdowns. Our production is limited, and what I personally try to do is challenge the minimums imposed to avoid overproduction” she answers, “True creativity is what we need at the moment. Only specialty stores and boutiques can provide that. During trying times, we are forced to be resourceful. That sparks innovation. Companies will need to refine their models and scale things down”, she adds.

She’s hopeful society will stop and think about its toxic behaviors: overproduction, overconsumption, and the vicious cycle of pumping out products for the sake of profit and margin. Fast-paced trends and inconsiderate demand are what’s exhausting the fashion industry. Despite her positive outlook, Yara doesn’t have much confidence that the industry will actually apply beneficial changes as we are running on an outdated calendar and schedule that was already suffering before the virus. Her passion for increased sustainability is proven by her craft and the steps she takes to ensure high standards and quality. “I mostly work with local factories owned by women, which I visit and audit personally.” She makes a point to clarify that she’s not where she would like to be when it comes to sustainability. “I don’t say this to shrug accountability off, but it takes a lot of research and resources to run a fully sustainable business.”

Like her brand, Yara is honest and authentic. She often speaks out against injustice and on social issues. She’s very vocal about the initiatives she supports. 
Recently, Yara reposted the story of Patty, a disabled artist based in Los Angeles who, during the outbreak, hasn’t been able to access proper care and is running a crowdfunding campaign to help her medical bills, prompting her 21,000+ followers to donate. In the wake of phony activism, the designer showcases genuine action to raise awareness of marginalized causes. Furthermore, Nomia is a vegan and fur-free brand, and she makes a significant effort in sourcing organic materials, for the most part. The hard work, care, and time put behind building the perfect item can be seen clearly throughout her collections. They’re usually characterized by supple textures and structural heels reminiscent of a Brancusi sculpture. 

When I look at Nomia, it’s hard to discern the two. “I tend to look at fashion as a communication tool. Your clothes are a representation of who you are, and if you feed into the prepackaged styles that are pushed onto us by the web now, I don’t think that makes you a very interesting person. Downtown skateboarders, basketball players in the ’80s. Have you seen the Last Dance? The oversized suits, Micheal Jordan berets … they were dressed so well back then!”

Needless to say, the ’80s and early ’90s were totally different eras. The style was unbiased and based on personal research. The chance to be passively influenced came from the real interactions you had in the street and the use you made of paper magazines, rather than being pushed upon us by subtle marketing schemes and data collection. In 2013, the brand presented a pair of reworked basketball shorts. “I was referencing Allen Iverson’s style with that. The dramatic size of his pants was so elegant to me”, she doesn’t hide that her next collection might be inspired by basketball once again. The mention is validated by the fact that Yara played basketball while in high school. Yara believes teenagehood is a pivotal time in life. What you like at 16 sets the tone for the rest of your existence. I think it’s hard not to agree.

Rap also plays a significant role in her references. Nowadays, she uses jazz to nurture creativity. The simplicity yet depth of the sound created using only a few acoustic instruments layered on top of each other is a metaphor for the brand itself. Nomia sticks to a sophisticated, minimalist vision. “That’s what makes you stand out. Being assertive and confident in your choices.”, she claims.

Two years ago, she became a mother. When asked if her motherhood brought changes to her approach to fashion design, she mentions how her brand has never been about sexy cuts or tight proportions, so her creations have always been tailored to any kind of woman. “Although it made me think about the approach to cleaning a garment!” It led her to look for washable fabrics that aren’t easily damaged. Also, she finds her color palette has become more vibrant these days. Fashion and motherhood are a collaborative effort.

This time of reclusion has allowed Yara to reflect on how she wants Nomia to evolve and create a more dedicated experience for her clients. “The uncertain period we are living in has made me want to connect with my clientele more closely. I am thinking about online exclusives and how to offer custom pieces for the direct consumer.” Given the economic hardship we are facing, even the conscious fashion audience will begin to look for special edition pieces that will allow them to feel special and unique. Brands will need to establish a new level of consumer loyalty and trust by providing tailored solutions to seal the transaction.

As our conversation reaches its 40th minute, and my phone starts to heat up in my hand, I ask Yara what her wish is for the future. She hopes to see people educate themselves during this trying period, ultimately creating a better world. Before I cut the call, she hits me with a lively, energic “Grazie! Ciao!” because not only is Yara a mind-blowing, well-rounded woman, she’s also bilingual.

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