Innovative, textural knitwear with a hint of Nordic flavour
Nor Clothing is a fashion label from Hull which aims to break the boundaries of high street clothing.
The brand, created in Hull, offers gorgeous knitwear which is affordable, innovative and eco-friendly with items previously stocked at Oxford St Topshop.
The brains behind it all is Hull born and bred Eleanor Scott – a fashion obsessive who designed and made clothes from an early age.
After being nominated in the Women of Achievement Awards in 2016, Eleanor went on to win the New Business Award and the Overall Woman of Achievement Award – quite something for a lady in her early 20s.
Through collaborations with the likes of Topshop Oxford Circus, Eleanor is in no doubt she’s achieving great things.
We chatted to Eleanor to find out what she loves about knitwear and the Hull roots of her business.
When did your love of fashion first begin?
When I was younger I was obsessed with making clothes – in fact, I think a few of my school friends were given some shocking handmade presents! My grandma taught me to knit when I was six so I started making things when I was really young. I even started a little accessory brand with one of my best friends Yaz at school.
I was always massively into my art at school. I studied Fine Art and Textiles at college, which is where I started focusing on knit and constructed textiles as an art medium. I then went on to studying BA Hons Textiles Design at Birmingham City University and that’s where I started developing my interest in fashion (specifically knitwear design) professionally.
Why did you decide to set up your business in Hull particularly?
I decided to set up Nor in Hull after living out of the city for a few years. Throughout my time studying I had the opportunity to work for a variety of knitwear agencies, and stayed in London, Nottingham and Birmingham to gain more experience. I eventually realised that I could stock the high-street market with goods that weren’t mass produced in unsustainable factories, and planned to stay in Hull to do so.
I’ve found setting up in Hull really easy, and although some of my industry links are in London, it hasn’t been a problem working with them. I’m lucky enough to have a studio in Hull city centre surrounded by other businesses in the creative industry. I think we all find working in Hull really exciting and get lots of interesting opportunities.
How does it feel to start a business at such a young age? Was it a scary experience?
I think I fell into setting up my own business; and I didn’t really have time to worry about doing so. I was fresh out of uni and raring to go, which worked in my favour. I’ve always adapted Nor since its first season to work with my customers buying habits, and I think I did a similar thing when I set it up.
I did a lot of market research to understand the industry, and what it was missing that Nor could provide, which made it seem much less risky to me.
Where did the inspiration for your first collection come from?
I went to Iceland as a teenager and was completely obsessed with the culture there. In fact I based my first collection on the Icelandic landscape, and a lot of the garments from that season are named after what influenced them. All my branding at first was made from images I’d taken on my visit years before I even knew I’d set up a business and use them!
I was always more inspired by the natural phenomena than the traditional Nordic clothing, and it still inspires me to this day. The fact that Reykjavik is twinned with Hull makes it even better.
Are you planning on going to John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux?
I am going to the John Grant Festival! I’m really looking forward to seeing Susanne Sundfør at Jubilee Church! I’m so happy there’s something like this going on on my doorstep!
What is it that draws you towards knitwear?
I’ve always found there is something really therapeutic about creating knitwear. Me and my freelancers make all the garments on vintage knitting machines, which have no electricity, just elbow grease, to power them which can be quite tiring, but I like the idea that I’ve started with nothing but a long reel of yarn and ended up with a fully functional garment. I also find knitwear very technical.
There’s a lot of maths and logic that goes into designing a knitwear collection. Nor sells sewn garments too and I actually teach sewing on a daily basis on the fashion courses at Bishop Burton College.
How did your collaboration with Topshop come about?
I was lucky enough to launch my first collection in Topshop Oxford Street after speaking to concession managers from the Hull Topshop team. I was only planning on opening a small rail in the St Stephens store, but I was offered to open In the Oxford Street branch, and I’ve carried on doing seasonal pop ups there, and am in discussions now for our latest one.
It’s a great experience for Nor and it provides us with a different selling platform, otherwise we are mainly based online.
How often have you completely scrapped ideas for designs and started fresh?
I do this constantly whenever I’m designing a new collection. Nor has a really strong sustainability ethos – to provide eco-friendly garments that are cruelty-free and affordable. This means I have to design with a strong set of rules, and often have to disregard ideas as they don’t fit into the principles I have as a business owner. All materials need to be sourced in the UK and everything needs to be easily handmade in house, with minimal waste, and be free from animal products. It helps my own piece of mind too.
Do you have any exciting plans for your upcoming collections we should watch out for?
Our latest collection is being shown to buyers now; and has a range of monochrome silhouettes with metal hardware, draped drop hems, mixed in with some ruched faux leather pieces.
Be sure to look out for the Pre Fall Collection coming out on our website and at our various stockists in August. We’ve been really excited about our new stockist The Creative Lab, which has opened in Flemingate in Beverley for any customers who want to try on the clothes instead of buying online.