mmm by Joel: Contemporary Fashion Meets Lebanese Traditional Craft

mmm by Joel, an inspirational line of bags by Joelle Khawam, sparks the imagination with its creative designs and intriguing approach to the creative process. For each and every piece Joelle marries traditional crafts with a modern, refined take on design. The result are bags that are at once individual and engaging, but that are also firmly rooted in our own, local heritage. Here we talk to the designer about their unique take on fashion and how mmm by Joel came about.

Tell us how the idea came about. What is the story behind this forgotten craft?
Growing up very close to my grandmother has shaped the way I look at arts and crafts. My grandma was our family star when it came to knitting and sewing, and I was always impressed by her creations and artisanal craftsmanship. Although she made many unique items, it all started with me on Christmas 2016 when a bag she had hand-knitted caught my attention. It made me realize that this forgotten part of our heritage has to be brought back, and that I should take the initiative. I instantly fell in love with the idea.

How did you modernize traditional craftsmanship and why is it important to you? 

I have always been attracted to artisanal craftsmanship, which was the main reason I studied fashion design. Elie Saab’s studio was my second school. What I learned from my time at this world renowned Haute Couture house was how to give handmade fashion items the care and attention that they deserve, and most importantly the timeless designs and materials that keep them “in” for as long as possible. With mmm, I introduced the use of industrial ropes while keeping the traditional knitting techniques that I learned from my grandma. The magical fusion of new material with old, inherited crafts was born in a bag.

Take us through the collection and what kind of woman you had in mind while designing each one.

It is obvious that mmm does not target the mainstream woman, it is intended to serve ladies who are trend-setters, who want to wear unique fashion statements that are not flooding the market, and who appreciate handmade items. This was kept in mind while designing each of the bags in the collection. For example, the mix of materials in our Bucket bag is nothing that has been seen before. The Beirut bag is a true reflection of the woman who is proud of her roots, and wants to showcase her heritage through her outfit. Each and every item created by mmm is truly unique and very well thought through and I cannot decide which one is my favorite.

What’s next for mmm by Joel?
There’s always something new being prepared, and much of it is inspired by my travels throughout the year. I promise you that some very special items will be launched very soon.

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