In Conversation With Hanan Sharifa

Hanan Sharifa is a New York based artist working in a variety of materials and fabrics including mesh, satin, jersey, and re-purposed denim. Every garment is hand painted, printed, and sewn to intentionally avoid the mechanical operations of fast fashion. 
   Photos by Hanan Sharifa.
What’s the meaning behind your name Hanan?
Hanan means "tender," "compassionate," "kindness." I often write my name in Arabic on my clothing as a way to diversify our understanding of English as a universal standard, and try to dispel the fear some feel when seeing it. I hope that by writing the word "compassionate" on our bodies, it reminds us of our collective empathy as humans, experiencing this world together. My name was given to me by my late grandmother Lala Fatima. We were very close, and I still feel very connected to her beyond this life. When using my name as a tool to communicate these ideas I ask, how do we align our spirits, beyond this time and space to heal and shed light on our ancestors' histories? In our complexities, we are the living history.
What inspired you to get into fashion?
I've been fascinated by clothing for as long as I can remember. My mom recalls me at 3 years old running away from her at Target to the shoe section so I could try on shoes and help others choose a pair for themselves. Demanding to style all of my outfits before school and throwing an absolute fit when I was forced to wear brown corduroy slacks at daycare. Even as a teenager I would ensemble the wildest, most colorful outfits I would find at the thrift store - creating knit sweater sleeves as hats and sewing two completely different shirts together to make one. I always had a lot of fun expressing myself in that way but I never considered it as a career option until I moved to the Bay Area. I got my BA in painting and I was doing all of these paintings that involved weaving my own substrate and really diving deep into textiles and fashion and what it meant to make a painting. Soon after that I was screen printing on up-cycled denim as a way to make ends meet and it took off from there. 
What emotions do you hope to evoke in people when wearing your garments?
I hope that my work allows those who wear it to be transported to another reality. I want the wearer to feel absolutely beautiful and become lost in their own day dreams. Through my garments, I want to allow the wearer’s authentic self to shine through in hopes of evoking the same complexity of not quite belonging as I have growing up a Moroccan American woman.
Outside of fashion, what brings you joy?
Having fun with my loved ones and laughing a lot. Going to the beach, or anything in nature. Whale watching (even if it's through a screen). Live music, especially jazz shows. Seeing the sunset and feeling alive. 
What are you looking forward to?
I have a runway show coming up in LA, June 4th at New Image Art Gallery. I'm very excited for that trip because I plan on spending some time in LA, maybe going to the desert or Mexico. Then driving up the 1 to stay at the Madonna inn and go to my dear friend's wedding in Oakland. 
Shop Hanan Sharifa's collection now!