Noble Sands Gives Limitless Wardrobe Options With Less
The idea behind Julie Habelmann’s recently launched Noble Sands line is this: One piece of fabric can do it all.
Her resortwear line, based in Newport Beach, Calif., is meant to give chic, easy solutions to any fashion need.
The new label—named for Noble Lake behind her childhood home in Arkansas—comes after Habelmann left the United States in 2012 to travel for four years with her husband, whose career in the aerospace industry took him around the world.
Following an Italian holiday, where she was inspired by stylish women at a Sardinian beach, Habelmann bought a single piece of scrap material from a fabric shop in Hamburg, Germany. By twisting, tucking and tying the piece in different ways, she was able to create multiple styles for her wardrobe, and Noble Sands’ first design was born.
“These women were so confident, elegant and effortless, and I had been looking for a different type of resortwear cover-up,” she said. “I started draping the fabric around myself and unknowingly came up with the prototype of ‘The Strand Wrap.’”
For Habelmann, one nonnegotiable component of producing that wrap and other pieces was to have everything manufactured domestically. With limited apparel-business experience, she went to Leslie Denby, a friend who owns the Houston-based athleisure brand DYI (Define Your Inspiration), who recommended Texollini, a textile company in Long Beach, Calif., for fabric sourcing.
“Since they are here locally, I met with Sherry Wood [director of merchandising] in their gorgeous showroom, and we went through samples after she simply looked at my piece of fabric from Germany,” Habelmann explained. “We landed on one sample, and it was pretty perfect.”
Through Texollini, she found the perfect blend of 92 percent nylon and 8 percent Lycra. With this material, Habelmann created The Strand Wrap, a piece of fabric that has been cut and sewn in a way that allows customers to create a variety of styles in light gray, blue and green.
“What makes the piece unique and beautiful is that the fabric itself is a high-quality, tightly woven fabric that drapes really well,” Habelmann said. “That is a key factor in the garment.”
By designing a single piece of apparel that can be styled into at least 15 different garments, which include resort cover-ups, dresses, skirts and shirts, Habelmann has created an opportunity for her clients to consume less.
While The Strand Wrap can be used alone, each order is bundled with a sash in the same color as the wrap and a metal ring for additional styling choices. Habelmann has fitted the garment on women ranging from 4 feet, 8 inches tall and a size 00 to women 5 feet, 10 inches tall and a size 14.
With one piece of fabric and small-batch production at a local manufacturer in Orange County, Calif., Noble Sands reduces unnecessary waste common in the apparel industry.
“I wanted Noble Sands to have a mindful mission because that means a lot to me. You hear a lot about it now, but it’s always been the way I’ve been a consumer myself,” Habelmann explained. “Every day, I am learning more about waste and overconsumption. I didn’t want to go into production and have a lot of dead stock, especially in my first run.”
This conservative production practice is factored into Habelmann’s business model—from the design stage to production and shipping. While she understands manufacturing partners must make a profit, Habelmann sees new opportunities for factories that accommodate larger brands but also offer the option of producing garments with lower minimums for clients focused on creating less waste.
“When they’re able to drop their minimums from 500 to 300 or 250, it makes a huge difference,” Habelmann said. “I would venture to say that would make up the difference just in the number of clients they would acquire.”
With The Strand Wrap serving as Noble Sands’ signature piece, Habelmann is looking toward the future of the brand. In addition to designing a shirt and pants—both of which will be designed for styling into multiple looks—she would like to explore the use of fabric made from recycled water bottles such as Repreve.
“They will go along with this theme of drape-y, chic style where the top and pants will complement The Strand Wrap. The top can be worn multiple ways. The pants, as with all the styles I intend to make, are very flattering for most body shapes and heights,” Habelmann said. “You are able to adjust them relative to your size and body type.”
While the collection is exclusively based on an e-commerce model, Habelmann is considering luxury-resort and spa partners where retail prices for shirting and pants will begin at $99. The Strand Wrap is currently available online at www.noblesands.com for $159.