Fashioning a brand

We all know the big names: Dior, McQueen, Jacobs, but do any of us really know how these influential leaders of the men’s fashion industry actually started out? If you’re looking to follow the next up-and-comer of the fashion world, you need not look any further than the halls of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Moustafa Tonbol may only be in his second year of communication studies at Laurier, but he is already gaining a solid foothold in the fashion world with his distinguished and original brand, called Bourjwah. With a blog, six new t-shirt designs and an entire line in the works, Tonbol is diving head-first into the fashion industry.

In his blog (www.bourjwah.blogspot.com), Tonbol writes that “Bourjwah is more than a clothing line, but a lifestyle…. This line is devoted to reinventing the style of the 1940s and 1950s vintage Parisian man.”

However, his blog reaches much further than the scope of his own designs as it covers “men’s fashion, art, music and anything that has to do with design basically … it doesn’t really cover the mainstream fashions. It’s more about the up-coming labels,” said Tonbol.

In regards to the budding six-month-old Bourjwah line itself, Tonbol states, “I like to keep it exclusive, make it a luxury brand.” While the release of six original t-shirt designs this year certainly maintains the Bourjwah brand as one of exclusiveness and sophistication, Tonbol is in the works of expanding Bourjwah into a full-fledged line of menswear.

“I design everything that has to do with menswear. I started out with t-shirts to see people’s feedback and I have everything else in the production stage right now like shirts, pants, even jeans, denim jackets as well.”

Already, Tonbol is seeing more than a favourable response to his new line. After winning an open call for a designers contest held by local uptown boutique jBU at the beginning of the month, Tonbol’s designs will soon be featured in-store – providing him with his first retail outlet for the brand.

While Tonbol looks to style icons Marc Jacobs and Kanye West for inspiration, he explains how he has “been seeing that everything is cookie cutter; the exact same, just a different logo.”

However at the end of the day, it seems that what fuels Tonbol is his zest for design and love for what he does. “I’m taking this more as a hobby and as a passion than as a business and profit.”

In the future, Tonbol looks forward to taking the brand to an international level through sales on his soon to be finished website, www.bourjwah.com, as well as through Canadian retailers. He even strives to open his own store in Europe within the next few years. With plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York upon graduation from Laurier, Tonbol displays the drive and commitment to make his designs a true success in the exclusive high-end fashion industry.

For now, you can check out the Bourjwah designs online and on the Bourjwah blog. To see the designs in action, stop by the Forbidden Frost Holiday Lingerie Fashion show this Friday, Dec. 4 at Caesar Martini’s.

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