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Issue 71 / Fashion Designer Profile: Bano eeMee

Fashion Designer Profile: Bano eeMee

Apr 28, 2017

Creative director and fashion designer Aleem Arif’s journey is one to be inspired by. The founder of super cool leather fashion house, Bano eeMee holds a master’s degree in international business from Boston University and has been selected as top emerging designer at WWD Magic tradeshow in Las Vegas.

 

Arif started his initial collection Bano eeMee with three leather jackets. He prides himself on creating top notch outwear that is high quality and timeless. To date his luxury brand has is carried in 70 stores across North America. He currently supports approximately 60 artisans in Pakistan and his designs have been seen on Grammy nominated Canadian singer Alessia Cara and superstar diva Lady Gaga.

Arif took time out of his busy schedule to chat with ANOKHI to discuss the journey and growth of his brand.

Tessa Johnson: Did you think this would be your path?

Aleem Arif: You don’t really choose your path; you never stop to think where you headed before it’s too late. Everything I did was back to back and going through the motions. I found this awesome job in finance during the recession in the U.S. A few years into it I went from a junior consultant to senior consultant really quickly. I was good at what I was doing but I never stopped to think “what I was meant to do” I felt like I was not being myself. I came to the conclusion that [I] need[ed] to pause and rethink and find out who I was as a person.

TJ: How did your journey start? Did you think you would become a fashion designer?

AA: I quit my job although my family and friends were like you “can just take a break because it was a great position.” I moved to Calgary and it was really interesting because I thought at one point in my life that I might end up being a fashion designer but I never really gave it serious thought. I did not have any family connections it was almost like starting my life from scratch. I didn’t know anyone so I could be however I wanted to be.

I ended up meeting a lot of creative people [and ended up] taking a trip to Pakistan. When I was there I was inspired by all of the fabrics and sounds; it woke me up and I thought ‘wait, I want to do something in fashion and this is how I am going to do it.’ I want to employ people in Pakistan and I want to create fair work opportunities while creating fashion.

The medium of my creative expression became leather, for a couple of reasons. Pakistan is known worldwide for its leather manufacturing so I knew the raw materials were going to be good quality. That was a good basis for creating something special. The other thing I felt about leather was that it was a timeless fabric. It’s always been in style.

Bano eeMee
Bano-eeMee Spring/Summer Collection 2017. Photo Credit: Bano eeMee

 

TJ: How did you form your brand name?

AA: I wanted something personal and unique. One night in Calgary I just was sitting with my roommate on the kitchen island and thinking “Oh my god, what should this name be?” I came up with Bano eeMee because my grandmother used to call my mom “Bano” and my mom calls me “eeMee”. So I was like you know what I’m going to dedicate it to the women in my family. There is that maternal love embedded in this name. It’s all about celebrating women.

TJ: Did you experience any challenges?

AA: To be honest Tessa, it’s been close to five years running my business but I didn’t go to fashion school so a lot of the technical knowledge I did not have. I had to learn it on the go. Real life has been my school.

Design is important but at the same time it is a business, trying to figure out when you create a collection how do you present to people. There was time I was an introvert. It was really hard for me to put myself out there. But I realized really quickly that if I didn’t tell people who I was and what I did nobody would know about me and this company wouldn’t go. So, I had to get rid of my introversion so to speak and meet people and struggle.

 

Bano eeMee
Bano eeMee S/S 17, Vienna in Black and London in Grey. Photo Credit: Bano eeMee

 

TJ: Is the leather vegan leather?

AA: No, it’s genuine lamb leather. It’s a by-product of the food industry. The tanning of leather, how you dye or colour the leather and preserve it, I use organic matter for that. So vegetable-based dyes.

 

Bano eeMee
Bano eeMee S/S 17, Vienna in Seashell and Jali in Gold. Photo Credit: Bano eeMee

TJ: What’s the theme behind your S/S 16 collection?

AA: I was really inspired by texture. A lot of the elements come from nature and also I love architecture so I tried to create architectural details. One of the underlying themes for my Spring/Summer collection is hope and love. The inside of my jackets have cherry blossoms. It’s a print that I created digitally. Cherry blooms to me are all about renewal and hope.

 

Main Image Photo Credit: Bano eeMee

Tessa Johnson

Tessa Johnson

Author

Tessa (@tessajstyle) holds a diploma in Fashion Business Management from George Brown College and has Fashion Coordination and Styling certification from Ryerson University. She has been ANOKHI Magazine’s Fashion Editor for the last three years covering the runways from Toronto to India. Her lov...

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