- Middle East/North Africa
Fashion knows no limits, no age groups or locations. Fashion, like music and art, is a language everyone can understand and appreciate. That’s why we spend time researching Facebook looking for our next inspiration. We, at the desk of Life & Style in Al-Masry Al-Youm office, found a promising Facebook page promoting a new fashion-line under the name “Bourjwah.”
A debut was insured, as we discussed the nationality of the designer: Some said he is Lebanese, other thought he is Canadian or Egyptian. We all, however, agreed that the designer has a keen sense of fashion and metrosexual color and style prospectives.
We sent our spies out, and managed to score an interview with Moustafa Hassan Tonbol, a 21-year-old Egyptian designer who lives and works in Canada, and is the proud owner and main designer in “Bourjwah”.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Can you tell us more about yourself?
Moustafa: My name is Moustafa Hassan Tonbol, I am 21 years of age, born in Egypt yet lived half my life in Canada, and I just recently graduated with a BA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Tell us more about the beginnings? What are you doing in Canada? What made you decide to start a fashion-line?
Moustafa: I came to Canada when I was about 7 years old, then went back to Alexandria for high school and came back here (Canada) for university, so lots of back and forth. I always had something for style just never really had the time and space to explore it until about a year ago.
What made me start Bourjwah, was the fact that whenever I was bored, I’d doodle the clothing that I would like to find and wear, then it hit me! I thought why don’t I make this [clothes] myself, make it all about the style I crave and see where it goes. [I wanted to] see people’s feedback.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Your design company started in Canada: Was there a cultural element into your design that brought costumers to you? Any challenges in creating such companies there?
Moustafa: The concept of Bourjwah doesn’t have anything to do with Canada, except for the fact that it is fully designed and produced in Ontario. Also, the fact that Canada facilitated attainable resources to start any business. So, the only challenge in creating a company would be your creativity and dedication to the business.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Tell us more about the inspirations behind your designs, what makes an idea agreeable to you? What makes you 'click'?
Moustafa: To the most part, Bourjwah is highly inspired by the vintage 1920s-40s French fashion, hence “La Bourgeoisie.” I admire vintage fashion for the fact that style back then was about individuality, modernity and class. Now, What makes an idea “agreeable” is solely based on convenience, quality and uniqueness and of course if I like it or not.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: We can see a unique and strong style in the pictures you posted on the Bourjwah FB page. Can you tell us more about the elements you use in your deciding upon a certain 'look'? How do you mix and match certain pieces together to create a style?
Moustafa: Like I said, Bourjwah is inspired by vintage fashion yet it’s very modern. The look I tend to go for is a creative masculine look but also very subtle and balanced. Not a look for the masses but a look for those who live and breathe the lifestyle of the Bourgeoisie in a moderate sense. These are then of course the Bourjwah market, the Bourjwah fans.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: How do you see the future of your fashion-line in the coming years? What do you see as your future goals?
Moustafa: Fortunately, the feedback has been astonishing ever since the first collection “Gentilhomme Collection” and I am very thankful and inspired by that. But I am also trying my best not to dive in head first in the industry, because it is definitely competitive and intimidating. Bourjwah’s newest collection is currently in the production process and will be launched in early spring.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Tell us more about the experience of releasing your work in Egypt. How hard was it to develop a relationship with a local market place here?
Moustafa: To be quite honest entering the Egyptian market with the company still young was a very hard decision. Firstly, because I would have to manage Bourjwah overseas without my presence which is what I am doing. Secondly, because I am not very familiar with the Egyptian fashion industry. On the bright side, all my friends and family were very supportive and definitely helped me out a lot. I also ADORE Egypt and I thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to my homeland, the country that I will always be indebted to and the country who made me who I am.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Marketing in Egypt: What were the challenges, what are the upsides and the downsides?
A definite challenge is getting your name out there in such a competitive and fast-driven industry. I remember when Bourjwah was nothing but drawings on a piece of paper. I had many negative and discouraging comments about entering the market, so overlooking that and staying positive was definitely a challenge that I had to overcome. Also, not crossing the red line and stepping into the negative side of the fashion industry was and remains a challenge. I am speaking of the dangerous social life that might come with the career.
Al-Masry Al-Youm: Your pieces are available now in stores in Zamalek, a neighborhood in Cairo. How are you developing the relationship in the future with these stores and what are the upcoming pieces expected to hit the Egyptian market from you?
Well the new collection will consist of an exclusive number of t-shirts; however a different style and cut and also different take on print tees. I am also currently working on designs for shirts, pants and sweaters which are planned to be launched in the next year or so. The 2011 collection launch date for Egypt is still debatable but I assure you, I won’t keep the Egyptian fans waiting long.