PARIS — It appears that evidently Charaf Tajer has the Midas contact.
As a accomplice within the Paris-based inventive collective Ache O Chokolat, he cofounded the clothes label Pigalle and launched among the metropolis’s hottest evening spots, together with Le Pompon. Because the debut of his Casablanca label in 2018, the lads’s put on line has gone from energy to energy — and even Donatella Versace has taken be aware.
At all times fast to identify new expertise, Versace’s chief inventive officer reached out to Tajer to debate the potential of him designing males’s put on for her label, although the end result remains to be up within the air.
“It was a pleasure to satisfy her,” Tajer says in a Zoom interview from London, the place the Casablanca model relies. “If in the future I’m going to a home like this, what’s essential to me is to be at liberty. One in all my desires is to design for a kind of homes, only for the symbolism of it, however we’ll see.”
Within the meantime, the serial entrepreneur has large plans for his personal model, which was one of many shared winners of the LVMH Prize for Younger Designers final yr, and is one in all six finalists contending for the 2021 Worldwide Woolmark Prize.
After launching a women’s capsule with Web-a-porter final August, Casablanca will current its first full coed assortment on Jan. 23 throughout Paris Males’s Trend Week, in addition to teasing the subsequent installment of its red-hot sneaker collaboration with New Steadiness.
And the 36-year-old designer doesn’t intend to cease there. Tajer plans to develop a full life-style providing, with the ambition of positioning Casablanca among the many apex of French luxurious manufacturers.
“I’d love for Casablanca within the subsequent 20, 30 years to be a kind of large homes that everyone knows, like Hermès, Chanel or Saint Laurent,” he says. “My ambition is to be a kind of guys — with out being pretentious, after all.”
Tajer was born in France, however his mother and father met working in a tailoring workshop within the Moroccan metropolis that impressed the label’s title. “Coming from immigrant mother and father, I fell in love with the French tradition,” he says.
He would accompany his mom as she cleaned properties within the tony neighborhoods of Paris, absorbing the codes of the French bourgeoisie alongside the best way. Consequently, the Casablanca man is just not shy about wearing silk scarves and strings of pearls, however the model’s signature look is a retro-style, terry-cloth monitor go well with — an emblem of a vanished leisure class.
Capitalizing on his community of leisure connections, Tajer has tapped rappers Gunna and Swae Lee to stroll in his reveals. In the meantime, his flamboyant silk shirts have been adopted by celebrities together with J Balvin, Travis Scott, Gigi Hadid and Hailey Bieber — therefore the choice to launch girls’s put on.
“We’ve a number of girls sporting the lads’s line already so for me, it’s a continuation,” says Tajer, who hopes to broaden into different classes like house wares. “I’d like to, as a result of for me, it’s a life-style that’s not precisely represented in different manufacturers.”
Likewise, he want to capitalize on the success of his collaboration with New Steadiness on the 327 sneaker, which bought out in lower than a minute when it was initially launched final April. In keeping with vogue search platform Lyst, the second drop in November sparked a 233 p.c rise in searches.
“We’re going to proceed, positively, the New Steadiness collaboration. However sure, after all, it’s one in all my desires to develop a correct Casablanca shoe line,” Tajer feedback. “I feel it’s tremendous essential, however it’s additionally a ardour for me. I actually love doing sneakers and sneakers normally.”
From its first presentation, staged in his mom’s house, the model has been carried by main retailers. At the moment it’s current in nearly 150 factors of sale worldwide, together with Harrods, Galeries Lafayette, Maxfield, The Webster, Tsum, Isetan, United Arrows & Sons, and Lane Crawford and I.T in China.
However Tajer hopes to open his personal boutiques as effectively, ideally in areas similar to Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles — and Casablanca, naturally. “I would like them to be experiences. I don’t wish to have quite a bit — possibly 5 or 6 — however I would like them to be distinctive. I would like them to be like embassies of the model,” he says.
For sure, 2020 wasn’t all rosy, however like most formidable businessmen, Tajer talks an enormous discuss, even when instances are powerful.
“We confronted a number of challenges, however I feel being constructive, it’s not solely being constructive in good moments, it’s additionally seeing the constructive in darker moments,” he says, declining to reveal revenues for the label, which he owns with a silent accomplice.
“It was very exhausting to be in confinement and create clothes, to begin with, and in addition to maintain the spirit very excessive,” he muses. “I imply, none of us have ever confronted something like this, and we’re nonetheless going through it. So one of many largest challenges, positively, is having the ability to work and provides pleasure to individuals at a time after we don’t actually know the place we’re heading.”
For a designer whose aesthetic is rooted in journey, watching the planet grind to a halt was much more jarring, although Tajer sometimes made probably the most of it. After getting stuck in lockdown in Hawaii whereas on a analysis journey in March, he channeled the expertise right into a psychedelic assortment for spring 2021. The autumn 2021 assortment is impressed by the fantasy of the Monaco Components One Grand Prix.
“The factor that I’m probably the most pleased with this yr is de facto how our staff obtained tighter and extra collectively, and sure, after all, every part we’ve achieved with Casablanca. The truth that individuals are loving the model increasingly more, and that the model is rising, it’s unbelievable. I’m nonetheless shocked by the best way individuals have reacted to Casablanca, even from the primary day. I by no means anticipated that,” he says.
“Folks have a look at our pictures and our garments with a singular sense of gratitude, much more so as a result of we now perceive a visit to the mountains, to look at a sundown, is one thing tremendous particular,” he says. “It actually helps individuals to know much more the message that we’ve got within the model.”
Casablanca has two full-time painters on employees, producing aspirational imagery like a cruise liner crusing beneath a rainbow, or a speedboat chopping via turquoise waves. All its prints are created in-house, and the materials are manufactured in Lyon and Como, two cities traditionally specialised in silk manufacturing.
Tajer hopes his upbeat imaginative and prescient resonates with a large viewers. Baseball caps promote for 95 euros, silk shirts for round 650 euros, whereas tailor-made jackets can go for as much as 2,500 euros — although most are priced underneath 1,000 euros.
“I don’t like vogue for vogue individuals. I don’t like music for music individuals. I don’t like artwork that divides classes of individuals. I like artwork that brings individuals collectively,” he says. “The way forward for a model like Casablanca for me is that an 18-year-old should purchase one thing and a 60-year-old should purchase one thing, however the philosophy is in each merchandise.”
It’s an perspective that’s rooted in his id as one of many few designers of North African origin in France, a rustic that also struggles with the reverberations of its colonial previous. Final yr, Tajer donated a day’s value of on-line gross sales to the Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Folks within the wake of the Black Lives Matter motion.
“For me, it’s apparent that I’m going to assist that as a result of I’m from this background, and I’ve skilled these sorts of issues. So I do know precisely the way it feels to really feel powerless within the face of that,” he says. “My objective is to convey individuals collectively, it’s to make individuals perceive one another.”
His ardour for journey fuels every part he does. “To me, probably the most lovely factor to do in life is to find different cultures, to satisfy different individuals. I’m in love with the world that we stay in,” he says. “We’ve been blinded by variations, however we are able to additionally have a look at the issues that we’ve got in widespread. Variations usually are not essentially a foul factor.”
Tajer is aware of what he’s speaking about. “I’m an Asperger, so I can inform you, what you are able to do together with your mind is sort of distinctive. It’s fairly particular to make use of your mind to focus but in addition to dream. It’s a unbelievable software,” he stated, crediting the syndrome for making him understand issues in a heightened manner. “I’m a hypersensitive particular person as effectively, so the combination is fascinating.”
Regardless of Brexit, he has determined for now to keep up his firm in London, the place most of his 22-person staff relies. Tajer, who lives in Paris the remainder of the time, likes the main focus he will get from working in one other metropolis.
“Actually, from the second that I come to London ‘til the second I depart London, I’m actually solely working and going house and going again to the workplace. So it’s very handy to me, and I feel the best way English individuals work can also be a distinct dynamic from the French, so it’s very fascinating,” he says.
“But when I’ve to return to continental Europe, I’ll. I’m type of having a dream of getting my workplace in Italy, someplace good,” he provides.
“For me, the extent of execution that you could find in sure homes there, or the respect that they put within the meals, all of that reveals me how we are able to hold getting into sophistication and growing this sense of respect for others via well-done craft. That’s why I really like Italy a lot,” he explains.
Whereas Casablanca is just not positioned as a sustainable model, Tajer says its merchandise are developed in an environmentally accountable method, by limiting the usage of water, ink and different sources, and favoring pure supplies like natural cotton, and buttons fabricated from coconut shells as an alternative of plastic.
“What’s crucial, for me, in sustainability in vogue, is to push for objects that aren’t disposable each season,” Tajer says. “We’re not going to cease individuals from shopping for garments, we’re not going to cease individuals from consuming, however I feel we have to train them find out how to eat higher.”
He likes to think about his garments as collectible objects that may finally be handed down from technology to technology.
“That is the place it will get extra sustainable, and in addition the thought of placing a message into the garments. That’s essential for me as effectively, to remind folks that the world is just not lifeless, we’re not residing in a cyber world. In the event you open your eyes, in case you go simply outdoors your own home, you’ll be able to contact a tree. That is what we have to shield,” he says.