Wands of Change
The Emirati creative director and founder of the fashion label MagicAim, Ahmad Ibrahim Al Muhassin has achieved in eight months what some fashion designers try to in decades: a unique balance of strong, unconventional design and commercial success. And this at 21. A photographer, printmaker, student and designer, Ahmad Ibrahim Al Muhassin has an ingrained creative streak – but MagicAim was born out of the most unlikely of sources. “I had this hobby where I would just book hotel rooms to stay in, take my camera with me, and take pictures of every single detail in the hotel, especially the architecture,” he says.
At the same time, he was frustrated with the lack of menswear designers in the region, particularly when it came to local designers. “I was already creating my own shirts and trousers,” he says, “so I thought: ‘Why not make something out of my hobby?’”
His collection of hotel photographs featured an extensive database of different types of marble. Inspired by the intricate patterning of the marble, Al Muhassin began printing the detailing onto fabric.
He clearly remembers his eureka moment: “It was when I photographed the Carrara marble in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers,” he says.
The unmistakable design of the white and blue-grey rock is now a cornerstone of Al Muhassin’s label. The marble is, in itself, beautiful – but that beauty is accentuated in MagicAim’s pieces, which look almost like a fusion of intergalactic patterning and psychedelic music videos from the 1960s.
The brand has now presented three collections, consisting predominantly of men’s T-shirts and classic button-down shirts, as well as scarves. Made from the finest Belgian linen and adorned with buttons from Italy, the designs respond specifically to this region’s warmer climes. From prints and patterns to branding, logo and PR, Al Muhassin is responsible for every facet of the label – and every piece in the collection is created in Dubai, at MagicAim’s studio.
Starting a fashion brand while still at university was a challenge, Al Muhassin admits. “For the launch, I contacted every single person myself and even delivered invitations by hand. It was fun but difficult doing it all alone.”
It took a fair amount of effort for the designer to convince his family that he was serious about this endeavour – winning them over with garment samples, business plans and sheer determination.
But that was not the biggest hurdle that he had to overcome. “Every company has one big bump,” is how he puts it.
“I had a pouch that held my laptop, wallet, sketch book, university papers and the business money my dad had given me, as well as my savings, which I had kept aside to start MagicAim,” he recalls. “I le it in the car and when I came back, it had been stolen.”
Al Muhassin reported the pouch missing to the police, but it was never recovered, forcing him to start again from scratch. Part of that process was finding a new backer, so Al Muhassin went to see his cousin, who runs an investment company, and asked for his help.
Now the brand’s CFO, Jassim Al Muhassin played a pivotal role in MagicAim’s progress, encouraging his cousin to contact the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Small and Medium Enterprises Development scheme, which was able to support the brand in getting a trade license and establishing itself as a fully fledged business.
This much is clear: Al Muhassin is not afraid to work with new people. Whether it’s family, fellow artists or even friends, no talent is le untapped. For the brand’s second collection, Al Muhassin collaborated with the Emirati graphic designer Fatima Al Zaabi to transform his marble photos to 3-D prints.
In addition, Al Muhassin reached out to a high-school friend to model the label’s first campaign. “I wanted to keep the Emirati touch in the brand – to keep it regional,” he says.
MagicAim’s creations are currently available at the UAE-based global e-tailor The Style Chamber and on the brand’s website (www.magicaim.ae). Al Muhassin is also in talks with a number of big-name department stores in the UAE that are interested in stocking his creations.
However, he insists that he’s in no rush to become a megabrand. Carefully selected stockists and a clear understanding of its target audience will be this home-grown brand’s route to success, he says. “We’re trying to take it to another level – but we’re going slowly.”
Ahmad Ibrahim Al Muhassin’s love for design took an ambitious turn when he photographed the marble in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, the print of which he can be seen