There are very few brands which seamlessly combine art and fashion to create highly covetable pieces. Dubai-based ready-to-wear label, The Letter, does exactly that. Established by the talented designer Mohammed Rabi, The Letter’s signature leather jackets combine the designer’s many experiences into trendy yet time-transcending pieces that will instantly add an oomph factor to any outfit (The classic flame leather jacket is an essential for any sartorial lover’s wardrobe).
Intrigued by the designer’s many sources of inspiration and passion for art, we sat down with Mohammed to discuss his journey, his love for all things design and what it takes to create a brand.
The Journey Thus Far
Mohammed: Well my main source of inspiration came from my experiences in California where I lived for 5 years. During my years there, I got to firsthand experience the life the locals chose to live, which I could relate to from the movies I watched growing up. My love for pop culture has been there since childhood. Movies like The Lost boys, The Terminator, Point Break and True Romance have been favourites of mine from as far back as I can remember. The characters, their personas and attitude that they let out within the garment that they wore ,really inspired me to want to design jackets that would make my customer feel like they were somewhat of a fictional character from a film. Leather jackets are a staple in California. As I attended many music concerts, the leather jacket was visible through the crowd every time. Creativity comes from vivid imaginations that the artist thinks of and every designer has a different style to their creations. Mine comes from pop culture, film and music.
The Many Sources of Inspiration
Mohammed: People inspire me. Conversations that I may have had with strangers or even loved ones inspire me. Every human being has a good side to them and a bad side and also a weird side. I immediately pay attention to the weird and see how it makes that specific person unique; just like a fictional character from a book or a movie or even a play. After observing and studying that personality trait I ask myself how he/she would dress and what kind of jacket would they wear on a daily basis or on a fancy occasion. As mentioned earlier, it’s my experiences and my love for pop culture that inspire me.
An Usual Day in Mohammed’s Life
Mohammed: My day starts off by hitting the gym. I’m a cardio junkie. It’s a habit now, I became a member at my first health club when I was 17 and never stopped going since. After the gym, I list up all the errands that need to be taken care of. My familie’s happiness comes before mine. So if they’re happy, I’m happy. I make sure all that needs to be done in relation to my parents is all in check and then I follow up with my team who get the production going. I find different sources of materials to choose from, which would be the ideal garment to work with long term and which would be just for a season. After that, I try to find ways to just keep pushing the brand in any way I can. Even if it’s baby steps; I keep to myself and gather my thoughts to what would be best for the brands future.
The Impact of Social Media
Mohammed: I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s definitely letting the customer see what you are working on, but at the same time it’s tough to actually get the sales going. It’s a great marketing platform but at the end of the day the principles that major editorials require from the designer will always be more important than the brand’s Instagram page. The steps required to make your brand stand out goes way beyond social media. Lookbooks, linesheets and press releases that are sent to retailers and editors separately is what gives your brand a more respectable and polished vibe from the person who is seeing it. But the followers on social media will show love and every form of love towards your creation is a blessing that I will never take for granted.
5 Years From Now
Mohammed: Well, being a graduate from an all-art school, we are taught that one will never stop learning. I plan to embrace my successes and failures as I embark on this journey with the brand. 5 years from now, I will look back at myself answering these questions and saying “Ok the past 5 years have been a great learning lesson, but I still have a long way to go.” Five years from that point, as in 10 years from now, I will repeat my words again, because if the brand does make it and I do become successful, I will want the journey to never end. The plan is to experience the journey as a turtle and as I slowly climb the mountain to reach the top, I morph from turtle to panther. Slow, slow, slow and along the way keep the good vibes going and wishing well to my surroundings. I pray for luck to be on my side so I reach the finish line, not only as a successful designer but as a humble human being the way my parents raised me.
The Insider Tip for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Mohammed: It’s not easy. It will never be easy. Keep your focus on what you once thought could not be set in stone. Let there be an ounce of progress everyday, even if it’s not bringing in the desired income you are hoping for. By trusting the journey, being patient with it, continuing to put in the hard work for it, the finish line will look prosperous. Everyone has a different strategy on how to grow their business, trust yours. Embrace the failures and enjoy the successes. Remain kind and humble, if others around you are succeeding before you, be happy for them. It’s our intentions and the energy we put into this world that determine whether we will succeed or fail. Make sure the energy you are letting out is a positive one.
Follow The Letter: @theletter_rtw