Our debut fashion series titled 'Behind The Brand' takes a closer look at a number of prevalent clothing companies inspired by Islamic culture. In this five part series we dissect all the components of what makes a business run, and also learn more about the budding entrepreneurs behind the vision. In this article, we speak to Mohamed Rezgui founder of Pure xi.
Mohamed Rezgui, better known as @AkhiTweet on Twitter, has successfully created his own brand, graduated with a degree in Criminology & Sociology and has gotten married, all by the age of 23. In the first installment of our 'Behind the Brand' series, we discover more about PureXI a clothing brand known for its unique fusion of 'Arab aesthetics and neo Tokyoite culture'...
Can you introduce yourself? A little about yourself? Your background?
My name is Mohamed, lead director of Pure xi. I'm 23 years old, born and raised in the UK to a Tunisian father and a Moroccan mother. I'd like to start by thanking you guys at Bahath for hitting us up with this opportunity.
When was your brand launched and what was your inspiration for starting?
The brand saw a soft launch in June 2014 with the inspiration coming from a genuine desire to raise the bar and challenge the standards of creativity amongst Muslims. With a passion for streetwear and a market so oversaturated with the same quick quoted slogans on Tees, I figured it was time to bring something new to the table.
Where did the idea for the name Pure xi come from and why did you choose it?
Well here's the theory. I felt like in the minds of many, for a Muslim to succeed in this arena they would no doubt have to sacrifice their beliefs/morals somewhere along the way. This can come from many angles in the fashion industry, such as exploiting women through marketing in a 'sex sells' narrative, or polluting minds with music in an attempt to capture mainstream consumers, but we want to be more than that, Pure. It's an ambitious venture no doubt, but the amazing feedback and response from a generation of youth who resonate with this philosophy has made us work harder every day to fulfil this ambition. The name Pure xi is nothing but a reflection of the mind, body and soul of the individual who's thoughts resonate with ours.
Where did the inspiration for an Arab/Japanese fusion come from?
For our most popular collection we went for an Arab-Japanese fusion based on two key factors. As Muslims, through our religion we come to appreciate the incredible power of the Arabic language to offer substance upon substance in just a single word. Sometimes one or two sentences require paragraphs of explanation to even come close to giving a translation justice. It is this depth that we sought to fuse with a culture that I personally feel is at the pinnacle of visual creativity in this day and age. The art and design that many Japanese visionaries produce it outstanding, and really goes back to a culture that thrives in it's creativity. So in a nutshell, it's a combination of two powerful forces coming together in one collection.
What genre of clothing would you consider Pure xi to be?
I'd like to call it 'boundless streetwear'.
What are some of your favourite pieces from your current line?
The piece I am most proud of is the xi sweater. I feel like it really captures the mood and feel of the inspiration behind the collection. It's loud, very loud. But the splash it's made on the audience has been incredible.
The Islamic clothing scene has become quite saturated, how are you hoping to stand out?
I hate to sound cliché but Muslims really need to think outside of the box. Going back to what I said earlier, it's about challenging the mainstream narrative without sacrificing our identity. Sure it can seem impossible at first glance but with enough vision and ambition you can push through like many do, and we hope to help in making that impact to show others that it's possible.
Often young people have an initial idea for a company/brand but quite often they are hesitant towards taking the plunge, what was it that made you take the plunge? and what is your advice to others who might be hesitant in doing so?
We've received crazy amounts of emails and messages from young people just like you've mentioned. Unfortunately many lack an idea with any real substance of vision, so I'd say first of all focus on that before you invest in anything else. Look for gaps that haven't been filled, and for the love of Allah try and be original. Once you're confident that you know the statement you want to make is loud and clear, it's time to make some moves. Just be sure your first product is something you believe in. Make it for yourself, something you would use/wear. If you are convinced you would invest your time and money in it, then the likelihood is others will too.
What is the most important quality/qualities you need when running a business?
I'd say that at some point you're not going to be able to handle all the roles and responsibilities on your own, so make sure you find a business partner who can compliment you. If you're all about creativity, find someone who is more technical, and vice versa. Just make sure there is enough love and respect between you, and trust, definitely a lot of trust. Two heads are better than one and it's what you need for your first projects.
What are some of the challenges of starting a clothing brand?
I'd say the main challenge at the start is being able to produce all your ideas at a cost that you can afford. This is why I say that you really need to believe in your ideas and concepts before you invest your time and money in production, otherwise you'll struggle. That's not to say that you won't struggle or fail along the way, but every failure is a learning experience so think long and hard and come back stronger with more vision and ambition!
Looking forward what are some of the things you are looking to achieve in the future? In shā'Allāh
Our wildest ideas are under the table, so I can't give away too much. I have a lot of collaborations in mind with other labels and creatives, and we'll be putting out a lot more video work soon. No doubt we'll be bringing bigger and better collections and evolving our ideas and concepts as we go along. The future is looking good In shā'Allāh.
Author: Eissa Dar