Nirvana Abdul, the Jeddah-born founder behind an environmental platform sees her style rooted in slow fashion.
Nirvana Abdul has developed a relationship between fashion and reducing her carbon footprint. She is the founder of The Responders, an online platform with an emphasis on environmentalism and furthering the conversation. “I needed a space that focuses on that area,” she says. “My personal platform wasn’t enough, and sharing information is the least I can do.” Between workshops on upcycling, the impacts of single-use plastics, and introducing eco-friendly brands, Abdul’s goal for The Responders is to form a community that’s friendlier and gentler to the planet. “At first, I faced many challenges. One of them was finding alternatives to replace old habits. It was about trying to find the best options that helped me shift to a more sustainable lifestyle. It also forces you to live life a bit slower. In this fast-paced world, it’s hard, but not impossible to slow down.”
Abdul describes her elevated personal style as a conversation starter. “What I wear speaks before I say anything,” she says. “It’s the first impression and it’s essential, because it reflects my values.” Dressed in a coordinating cream linen pantsuit by Nature Hedonist, a Dubai-based sustainable linen wear brand, Abdul gravitates towards minimal designs and, unsurprisingly for someone who emphasizes sustainability and environmental impact, a wardrobe full of timeless pieces. “I’m mostly in jeans, a white shirt, sneakers, and a coat,” she shares. Through the power of styling, she injects her capsule closet with statement pieces by Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Saudi designer Nasiba Hafiz, and Dubai-based Amber Feroz. She also appreciates unisex separates. “I wear my husband’s clothes all the time; I love incorporating a little masculinity into my looks.” When her bold Sagittarius mood kicks in, she reaches for her pointy, red Manolo Blahnik mules or electric green Nicholas Kirkwood loafers for a flash of bright color.
Pride in a purchase
Curating a wardrobe that suits her sustainable lifestyle means Abdul is always aware of exactly how much or how little she needs. “This switch in mindset is a way to create lasting change in your own shopping habits,” she explains. “Thinking twice before buying is key. I always ask myself, do I need this? Can it be styled in multiple ways? Will I be wearing this a lot?” She minimizes her contribution to microfiber pollution by sticking to natural fibers such as silk, organic cotton, linen, or wool instead of synthetic materials and steering clear of fast-fashion brands. “I believe that small habits extend the lifespan of our clothes, such as following the care instruction labels and folding each piece the right way.”
Strike a chord
An impressive array of sleek golden-hued bottles and arabesque glass vials of fragrance spread across her vanity like much-loved sculptural objects. “It’s quite a relationship, I would say,” shares Abdul of her extensive perfume collection. “I’m picky when it comes to fragrances. I got this obsession from my husband; we explore scents together.” She picks up the black cap bottle of Byredo Bal d’Afrique and spritzes her wrist with what she describes as her signature scent, a warm and romantic blend of African marigold, neroli, and Moroccan cedarwood. Further enveloping the room with a citrusy mist, she takes a whiff of another beloved fragrance, Oud & Bergamot Cologne Intense by Jo Malone, its notes of cedarwood amplifying the intoxicating Middle Eastern scents.
The digital influencer takes her skincare routine seriously. “Every single day and night I start with Clinique All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser, followed by serum and moisturizer from Drunk Elephant. And I never forget to apply sunscreen before leaving the house,” she says. To prep her face for creating a day’s worth of content, she focuses on defining her cheeks and jawline. “I have this makeup trick that I’ve been doing since 2005: Applying compact powder only to my cheeks before layering on blush. It gives a fresh and clean finish.” For a pampering self-care Saturday, she sets the mood with an aromatherapy massage.
Productivity at home
The mother of three finds balance by mapping out her day, ensuring she always stays organized and well prepared. “With homeschooling, time is tight. I plan everything that I need to do ahead of time. I still use a notebook and pen,” she smiles of her analog ways. “I try my best to stick to my schedule. Most days I wake up before my kids, finish what I can, and take a break when I know it’s needed.” Her perfect day off involves visiting her mother and grandmother, dinner at her favorite Italian restaurant, Il Gabbiano, for its lobster pasta and tarabani fish dish, and movie night with her girls.
A sustainable future
For Abdul, shaping a greener world for everyone starts at home. “I have a lot of conversations with my daughters about practices and habits that can have a positive impact on our world. I ask them if they need a certain thing before we buy it, and our craft time involves upcycling the packages to become beautiful pieces to play with,” she shares about passing down her sustainable practices to the next generation. “Whatever we buy is considered an investment, and supporting a business is supporting its ethos.”
Originally published in the June 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia