Beirut-based fashion designer Hussein Bazaza has always had an appreciation of artistic fields and experimenting with design. After graduating in 2011 he worked for Elie Saab as a junior designer before introducing his own ready-to-wear line to the world in 2012 at just 23 years old. He has received many regional awards for his designs and has come to be recognised across the region for his contemporary, artistic and barrier-pushing designs.
Bazaza recently launched a new online store that kicked off with an exclusive e-capsule collection. The Bombers Project introduces various interpretations of the classic bomber jacket. Every bomber holds the story of one of the brand’s pas muses from fall/winter 2015 to spring/summer 2020. This e-capsule collection sheds light on the ways we can take care of ourselves, and have self-belief, especially during trying times such as the one we are experiencing currently. Maintaining our mental health is key and is highlighted by the slogans on the T-shirts as part of this collection.
Here, we find out more about the collection as well as Bazaza’s dedication to sustainability and supporting mental health.
What can you tell us about the Bombers project?
Brainstorming around the online store, which was months in the works, we decided to launch a capsule collection with a focus on one singular item and have that one basic piece reinvented with the brand’s trademarks. We then chose this to be the classic bomber jacket; a versatile piece, worn throughout the year, during all seasons, that can be styled for both day and night. We also wanted a piece that would cater to both men and women.
For the launch, we highlighted our muses throughout the years with each jacket featuring a specific detail from one of our previous collections; from embroidery and prints to cuts and colour-blocking. The collection consists of 25 different versions, each styled with a pair of coordinating Bermuda shorts, to be worn together as a matching set or apart.
Finally, we introduced slogan t-shirts. Each tee with a message on my notion of sustainability and maybe the truest form of sustainability: maintaining our mental health and sustaining ourselves. It was also our aim to have it all launched during the month of May as the official Mental Health Awareness Month.
What can you tell us about sustainability at Hussein Bazaza?
I have never shed light on sustainability in its widely known meaning before, not back when it wasn’t a trend and not even now that it is. But we always try to reduce waste as much as we can at Hussein Bazaza: we only produce samples for our collections and we take orders on demand so they are tailored to every client or boutique, which helps with eliminating all unnecessary excess. on another note, we use all leftover scraps and unused fabrics for upcoming collections; almost nothing goes to waste. We have also experimented with recycled fabrics and garments using plastic materials many times, especially in SS20 and FW19. Of course, we are not perfect and I cannot claim that we are 100% sustainable, but we are always doing as much as we can.
The true form of sustainability that we all need to strive for is much needed and maybe even much harder to attain: maintaining our mental health. Before we are able to take care of anything the world around us, we need to learn how to take care of ourselves, mentally and emotionally. I am not belittling the sustainability of the planet, pollution is a great cause of death, but so is your mind.
Why do you feel it’s important to highlight mental health issues through your designs?
I am known to narrate stories through my pieces. Each one of my tales has a moral to it. I want to share relevant lessons that I have learned through my experiences or through the world’s experiences to be conveyed and what better way can I do that than through my own creations? There always needs to be a purpose.
What are the ways in which you think all fashion brands can to introduce sustainable methods in their companies?
The only way is to do the best they can. Being sustainable is not easy and is not fun. Of course, despite its difficulties, we should be helping our planet as much as we can, but each fashion house will figure out the sustainable methods that work best for them.
Do you think the current global crisis will have an impact on customers’ consideration for sustainability?
It should and I hope it does. I can’t say for sure that all customers will refuse to buy anything but sustainable items, but our job as fashion designers is to help them make the right decisions by creating sustainable pieces they would love to purchase and at the same time promote it further and bring awareness to its importance in our lives today.
What is something you would like to do with your brand in relation to sustainability that you haven’t done yet?
I want to get more into using recyclable fabrics, sustainable materials, techniques, and technology. There is so much that I still want to do but we have to move with baby steps and clear focus, or else it’ll get messy, unorganised and stressful. It’s a learning process.
Are there any issues related to sustainability, particularly in Lebanon that you think the fashion industry can shine a light on?
The biggest would be having no access whatsoever to sustainable materials and fabrics or technology. Lebanon is greatly behind on this subject, which doesn’t help designers who want to lessen the impact of the industry’s wrongdoing on the planet.
How important is e-commerce at Hussein Bazaza in today’s climate?
E-commerce has become relatively important with the situation at the moment. we want our customers to have access to shop at the comfort of their own homes, to feel good lounging in them or better yet, have something to look forward to and wear for their first outing when all this is over. We have also created our online store pieces specifically so that there is something for everyone in terms of different styles, from a busy print to a minimal monochrome hue as well as a vast price range.
What can you tell us about your upcoming Haute Couture collection?
All I can say is that it is already one of my favourite collections and that’s being said while we’re still in the experimental stage of production and haven’t seen a proper outcome for a piece, especially since it is going to feature really different attributes than what our audience is used to seeing from us. it’s exciting.
What is the motto that you are living by during this time of crisis?
Take it day by day.
What is in the pipeline for Hussein Bazaza for the second half of 2020 and will you be changing any of the strategy of the brand?
Today and moving forward, we will be working on the launch of two main collections per year; seasonally for both spring/summer and fall/winter. Accompanying them, capsule collections will be launched exclusively on our online store, featuring limited and exclusive pieces created towards both men and women solely sold on our website.
What is a message that you would like to give to your readers at this time?
Get to know yourself better, take care of who you are and stay home.
Why do you think now is an important time to shed light on mental health?
Now it is more important than ever. We are staying home buried in their own thoughts, in their own confusion and own fear of the unknown and what awaits us. We all need to be reassured that it is going to be okay and that we are not alone going through this.
How can fashion help us focus on self-belief and self-love?
fashion has always been a language for self-expression and a boost for self-esteem, it exists to make you look good, make you feel great and to show who you are. it is already helping.
What is your message to anyone who is struggling with mental health issues during this time?
We’re all worried about tomorrow but we’re all in this together.