We got a chance to Interview With Fashion Designer Soufyan Ziyel. Being connected to two completely different cultures can be difficult but it also offers an opportunity to the creative minds as it blesses you with a unique perspective. The kaleidoscope you can create by juxtaposing the unique and contrasting forms, shapes, colors and cultures can be a true feast to the beholder.
We spoke to Soufyan Ziyel the founder and creative force behind the Amsterdam based menswear brand Ziyel. Proud of his personal identity as well as that which comes from his family, he has managed to seamlessly combine the two to create timeless pieces that you would never want to let go of.
You were born and raised in Amsterdam, a city on the forefront of freedom of expression. How has it effected your creativity and the expression of it?
I have been born and raised in Amsterdam indeed. It showed me a world full of possibilities and inspirational people. It is the birthplace for great businesses and concepts.
In Amsterdam we learned very soon to adopt and be open for differences, the main culture is the one of Amsterdam. Open, direct and social. All our group of friends have people in it with a wide range of backgrounds, this helps you to understand the world a bit better.
Your family came from Morocco and your ancestors moved from the Middle East but you still feel connected to your roots. How has that translated into your designs?
Around the 16th century my ancestors moved from Yemen through North Africa to Morocco, which was a flourishing and highly inspiration country in that age. Currently it is still leading in its area. I feel connected because there’s centuries of culture and life that has surpassed in that area and I feel it running through my veins. I translate my heritage in combination with my homebase which is Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I do believe that fusing these the aesthetics of these 2 countries makes a beautiful mix of western construction and eastern finesse.
I look to fabrics inspired from the streets of Marrakech and I look to design in the metropolitan cities of Europe, Amsterdam, London and such. The colors of the first collection is based on the Gazelle, the spiritual animal of the brand. My ancestors lived one with these animals and our name is honored on this special occasion. How people and wildlife can merge and live peacefully together. Together as One is therefore our vision. Fashion Designer Soufyan Ziyel
Can you explain the name Ziyel and how does it related to your brand?
As I said before. It is named on the life my ancestors had with gazelles, so it stands for the Gazelle. These animals are graceful and fast. I like to bring these elements back into menswear. Ziyel is Grace and dynamic to all men which like to reflect their uniforms into nature, comfort and class.
How would you describe Ziyel in three words?
Rustic, Dynamic and Delicate
Who is your ideal target audience?
Men with passion, which are daring to walk upfront and do the right thing. Living from intention and working hard to establish their goals.
You are a new brand. What have been the hardest parts about starting a brand and what lessons you have learned along the way?
The hardest was to start in the first place. Often you keep an idea in concept stage. To make the first steps into buying fabrics, finding a supplier. Getting your branding package alive, think of labeling and hangtags. A lot of steps you have to undertake before the brand is ready to get exposed. Meanwhile you face only defeat, every single step. The first order, the first return. The webshop and online advertisement process that you give to others to manage for you. People sometimes make you believe great things, but you can get disappointed many times. I can say it is very hard at the moment to do all by myself and get the brand to take off.
I create everything from online experiences, to my campaigns, to the designs and the way to expose the brand into the world. Time and manpower are missing sometimes and you even think do I need more help, do I need an investor. But so far I can say one thing, I would never give back this dream that I have. It is the best thing I have done for myself. The fact that it is not easy makes me even happier and more motivated to become the brand that I envision. It will become the first brand which will operate as news channel. A news channel for cultures and handles around the world. For a better understanding.
What was the idea behind your collection “Concrete Desert”?
Together as One. Fusing my desert heritage and my metropolitan upbringing. I show you the story of my grandfather coming from the desert, meeting his companion, looking overseas and going overseas for a better future. Not for him, but for the generations to come. Now it is my turn to go global.
Sustainability seems to be important to you. What steps do you take to ensure that your products are not only of high quality but also sustainable?
I do buy dead stock fabrics from high brands through an agent I know. He’s well connected in the high segmented brands. I buy Bio-resin buttons (they look just like real horn buttons but they are not), I get my zippers from the same supplier as Hermes, they use only sustainable finishing on their products. I try to reduce the use of plastic as much as possible and work more paper based. Which also give it a natural appeal. I believe no 1 company is sustainable because we are consuming, but I do believe that integrity and being conscious in your waste and usage will make a change on the long run.
No one would like to go naked on the streets, so we have to do what we do but careful. I believe this starts by your own personal lifestyle, are you raised to misuse what you have or to be careful and thankful for the things you have. The last applies to my, because of my mom. She raised me with a conscious mindset.
To round this topic up I have a production and margin plan whereby I work with limited collections and these make the profit needed to develop and grow healthy as an company and not to overproduce on the same product.
In your opinion, what makes Ziyel stand out from the rest of the brands out there?
This is really hard to answer for me, because when I look to the brands I admire. It is truly amazing how they have developed such a successful business and how they maintain their style and identity. I believe Ziyel stands out because of my ideas on how to make people understand what people do around the world. To create recognition points for people around the world how their history has evolved in today’s life. I see Ziyel not only as a fashion brand, but as a brand that offers you information about the differences the world has to offer. Making oneness out of differences, Together as One.
How has the response been so far for your first collection and are you available elsewhere apart from your website?
The response has been truly amazing, my first order was from someone that I admire as an artist. I could not believe when I saw his name. But it is only the start for reaching the unknown. Momentally we sell online, because this is the most profitable for where Ziyel stands.
What should we expect from Ziyel in the near future?
Wait and see, I have always learned not to predict the future. But I can promise you that I am making a lot of effort to do things differently.
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