BLANK by Noor Ghaith
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BLANK is a brand that came under our radar through founder Noor Ghaith's visually intriguing use of collage art, as a graphic medium for artistic expression. The brand's versatile and daring logo, five dashes in a hangman inspired motif to fill in the spaces where the letters go B L A N K, snatched our attention in the midst of a plethora of sans serif typefaces and monochromatic emblems.
We spoke to 20 year old Egyptian artist and designer Noor, who resides in Toronto, on his process in building a conceptual brand that manages to balance elements of design and storyline, merging both streams of consciousness into clothing that speaks to a revolutionary fashion generation.
Tell us about your artistic process, on contrast and collage art, and on merging cultural backgrounds for the sake of creative expression.
Growing up, I was a student of modern day pop culture, with a huge interest in skateboarding, rap, movies, cars and fashion, which was a bit of an anomaly in the Middle East, or at least within my friends who typically had an interest in football, business, fighting, playstation etc. Since my interests weren’t so common, it made me value them even more and lead to me really researching and knowing everything about the things I like. I lived in Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE, however the majority of my life was spent in Dubai. Cairo and Dubai are the two cities which I consider my home, and that is where the advantage of digital art comes in. The two cities that shaped me vary drastically as one of them is super modern while the other has been there since the beginning of time. The idea of contrast is seen through my work whether the artworks being modern infused with old paintings or one of my favorite themes, the clash between the east and the west.
How did you transition into fashion design? What is the concept behind BLANK?
My interest in fashion was always one of the earliest I had, however being a guy in the Middle East with an interest in fashion made it quite difficult to thrive until now, due to Instagram which made being fashion savvy universally cool. I was always bothered but hopeful about the fact that most world renowned brands are dominantly western, Louis Vuitton, Supreme, Ralph Lauren etc. BLANK aims to fill the gap for a Middle Eastern brand in the fashion world successfully without being too tacky or too foreign; the concept is also greatly driven by the global network of the Middle Eastern youth. Moving from Cairo to Dubai to now Toronto, made me unintentionally build a network of friends that is extremely diverse. This highlighted my demographic audience which I consider to be a niche, which made it much easier for BLANK to be clear and concise to who it serves. I would describe the ideal BLANK persona to be for example someone from Beirut or Cairo who studies in London, and has been going to Gouna for the past 5 years to celebrate New Years Eve with his hometown childhood friends.
We love the logo, where did the inspiration for it come from?
Whenever I thought of starting a clothing brand the name would always create conflict for me as the options always sounded cheesy or irrelevant, and I personally am not a fan of brand names or logos as they always end up overpowering the design. So for BLANK I decided I wouldn't have a brand name, which ironically lead to it being called BLANK. Personally, I would say there isn't a brand name however BLANK is being used to suffice for that requirement in the fashion world. Having set on the name, the logo was another challenge for the same reasons of them being too dominant over all the other designs, I wanted something subtle and memorable yet Iconic. I gathered up most of the logos that I believed share my approach which were Maison Martin Margiela’s logo and Saint Laurent as well as icons, like the Batman symbol or the Mercedes logo, and tried to achieve the same thing, as they all have an ambiguous undertone that’s instantly recognizable especially Margiela. Since my brand name was technically non existent, I wanted the same with the logo, which is where the 5 dashes come in. The 5 dashes act as a “Hangman” for the word blank, which was perfect because that along with the name delivered my intention of not having something there, but having it there at the same time.
The logo is what I received the majority of comments on from people I know, which is amazing because people are looking at me as if I designed the equivalent of a McDonalds logo. However, in reality I would say it feels a bit like an accident that turned out well as there wasn’t that much of a process behind the logo in comparison to any other thing I did for BLANK, it kind of happened organically which was great.
Would you categorize yourself as a streetwear label?
BLANK would definitely qualify as a streetwear brand right now due to its price point, and its catalog, however there is a lot about the term streetwear that BLANK defies. Streetwear brands in my opinion tend to sell as a result of their intense mainstream following that has a constant thirst for hype, which unfortunately puts taste out of the conversation. BLANK however is intended to develop more of a cult-like following, which is niche and simultaneously admired by the mainstream. The only fashion brand I can think of with that achieved right now would be Rick Owens. Also, the vision for BLANK is not related to streetwear although hoodies are a big part of the catalog, ideally the price point should continue to rise, along with the quality. For the next collections, I have toned everything down, and decided to go for a much more focused and concise aesthetic, with much less products to have everything credited with its own time in the spotlight, such is the case with the denim jackets that are on the website right now.