Among a sea of generic highstreet and streetwear brands, it’s refreshing to find something like Esah Clothing, a label that studies its surroundings and gathers inspiration from every aspect of life. Esah Clothing is cool, wearable and holds a distinctive urban edge. We talk to owner Imtayaz Qassim to ask him how it all started.
So, first and foremost, why did you want to start up Esah Clothing?
Creating my own brand is something that I have been thinking about for a few years now, but I knew if I was going to do it then I was going to do it properly and take my time. I am currently in my third year of university studying menswear and last year as part of a project we had to create our own brand. And of course I already had a million ideas racing around in my head, so I took the opportunity to create my brand through the project and then from there taking the next step and actually turning it in to something real. I never woke up one day and thought oh I want to print some tees and say I have a clothing company like a lot of the pop up brands you see these days.
In your work, you combine the modern art technique of screen-printing with casual menswear, what led you to using such an unusual mix of methods and mediums?
I’m a huge fan of both menswear and streetwear and like to mix the two in my own outfits, so combining both into my brand was just natural. When I design I like to be true to myself and not follow any sort of trends. There are a lot of brands that fall into either street or menswear and I didn’t want Esah to fall into either – I want it to be known in both circles.
What can we expect from a piece of Esah clothing?
Casual clothing with attention to detail, as that is what menswear is all about, the fine details. A t-shirt is a t-shirt, and a shirt is a shirt, its the detailing and how you put your own stamp on it as a designer that makes the difference. Good fit is also a must, theres nothing worse than ill fitting clothing. I like to think that there is something for all different people and occasions.
So what’s your process for creating a collection?
Any and every collection always starts with research and development. I’m constantly sketching, taking photos and collecting things that inspire me in some way and from there I take my research further and develop it into design ideas. That’s always the first and foremost process for any designer, the smallest brand to the biggest must go through it. From there I design a lot of different garments, prints, details etc and then filter down to the best ones and refine them into finals. Once that is done I’ll draw up the technical flats ready to send to the printers or wherever is creating the garment.
All of the details such as pockets and anything else that is sewn is done by myself to ensure that the quality is there, so I draw up all the patterns and hand cut and sew them.
What inspires you when you think about starting a collection?
It could literally be anything, I take a lot of inspiration from different cultures, history and nature that shape the world we live in today.
How did you start developing your brand to make it ready for online selling? Was it tough venturing into online marketing and retail?
Yes it is hard I can’t say that it isn’t, any new brand or business will agree, there are literally millions of online business all competing together, especially within clothing. I just made sure that the website was exactly how I wanted it before it launched, it had to be clean, minimal and easy to use. Nobody likes a hectic website, so that helps and social media is literally at our finger tips and is such a good marketing tool, so I spread the word as much as I could via all the social networks.
So what’s next for Esah? Do you have a fixed focus for your next collection?
I have just finalised part 2 to the A/W collection which again introduces some new products to the brand so I’m excited for that. So at the moment I’m designing for S/S’13 which will introduce more full cut and sew garments with some very nice details and a good fit. I’m currently perfecting some patterns for that before toiling and production. There’s a lot of exciting things to come from Esah and I’m really looking forward to showcasing them to everyone.
You can see more from Esah at www.esahclothing.com.
Interview by Charlotte Cole.
Edited by Charlotte Haggart.