Wands of Change

The National - News - Luxury - - THE INSIDER - BY NA­DIA EL DASHER

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.”

MAGIC MANTRA 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 wear­ing here.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.