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Q&A May, 3 2011

Second Look | Omar Kashoura Q&A

We continue our second look series with a look at Omar Kashoura. We’ve featured Omar a fair bit lately, so we felt it right to get in touch and find out more about his inspirations, love of fabrics and his background. As you’d expect, it’s all after the leap.


What are the guiding concepts and inspirations behind this season’s collection, “A New Ease”?
Relaxed ambition; a return to early morals with camaraderie and make-do-and-mend; primary colours and recycling in a modern way, without looking vintage.

As a designer who has quickly become noted for his use of luxurious fabrics and intricate detailing, how hard was it to reconcile your natural tendencies with the notions of “make do and mend,” “no frills”and “back to basics,” as set out in your collection’s narrative?
Each season is a challenge; encouraging one to think outside your natural choices is interesting and more motivating, especially when you can come up with successful solutions. Relating these themes to the collection this season we looked to recycling old fabrics we have in our studio that were not being used by over-dying them. We also developed ways to create our own fabrics through panelling of fabrics and ribbons and incorporating traditional hand stitching.

Focusing on back to basics we developed a wardrobe consisting of staple pieces. The fabrication looked to traditional cloths, wool and cottons and the colour palette consisting of hessian with primary colours. Can you get any more basic?

I believe it’s important to design clothes which are practical and that one can wear. Most of our patterns were developed from a square shape.

So which three key pieces – available to buy – manage to be the perfect distillation of the “A New Ease” ethic and why (I’m quite keen on the raglan-sleeve, zip-front polo)?
The raglan sleeve polo is one of my favourite pieces too. I’ve been wearing mine lots these days. I have a bad habit of over wearing items of clothing day after day until I am bored and then move onto another.

‘New Ease’ is a term we are associating and developing with our designs in each season. It’s about finding ways to present tailoring in a new, easy and comfortable way; a relaxed elegance. It’s about finding ways in which to design clothes with more than one function, more purpose. Clothes that can be worn for all occasions, in any 1 day.

Take for example the Crystal Cardigan. The cut and details incorporate a tailored jacket, yet its fabrication and construction are that of a cardigan. The Never Never Julian Mac is completely reversible, the sleeves are grown onto the body and the fabric is a soft lightweight cotton which together create a super easy to wear piece.

What kind of influences does your Arabic background wield in terms of your designs – in A New Ease there’s a definite fresh and easy flow to the garments, coincidence?
The Arabic side to me is my emotion and my charm. My collections are an extension of my personality.

Forget reading tealeaves!!, I believe that you can understand a designer as a person very well from reading their collections, perhaps this can be an interesting angle for a philosopher, or indeed scientist, to begin a new study!!.

Is there a ‘trademark’ piece that you find yourself reinterpreting again and carrying through into each new collection? If so, what makes it so special for you to keep wanting to get it right again and again -and how was it reimagined for A New Ease?
The cardigan. It has become a staple piece for any mans wardrobe. It’s not about trying to get it right season on season; it’s about finding new and exciting ways to present it. Our best sellers are our knitwear and for spring it was the Crystal Cardigan.

How did your time with Preen and then Unconditional help shape the Omar Kashoura look that we see today?
My time at Preen and Unconditional gave me the opportunity to experience other design styles. Finding your own design style/image I believe is like finding yourself as you grow up. You have to try and experience in order to cancel out.  This was then part of my design development.

In what ways (and what doors) has the New Gen Designer award helped the label?
The New Gen award is helping us as a brand tremendously. Since winning this award our growth has increased steadily. This year alone we have been invited to show in Barcelona, New York and Dubai.

One of your principle aims as a label is to be progressive – so what is it about modern menswear that you are seeking to overturn and innovate?
I wouldn’t say I am seeking to overturn menswear. I have my own vision of what a man should be and through my collections I am painting this picture.  I think it’s time to clean up our image as men. It’s time to be a man, and my vision is something very proper. Through communicating this message I am being progressive

The “Project” heading on your website displays an intriguing “COMINGOON” when clicked. Any chance we can prize some info out of you as to what we can expect?
I’ve been working on a few projects of late, in particular with Topman. I created a collection for spring 2012 where I have re-introduced the pebble print, so definitely one to snap up.
I do have a few further projects lined up and one in particular with a great shirt maker on Jermyn Street so keep watching that space.

And finally, what’s inspiring you for the AW/11 collection?
‘The Damned’ by Luchino Visconti, Soldiers of Britain and developing on from spring, early morals and camaraderie, the idea of coming together to support one another.

Words by Alex Jackson

Highsnobiety