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Faces of Moroccan Design: Anwar Bougroug, Innovator of Unisex Fashion

My brand is about creating the perfect universe, where everyone wears whatever they want, wherever they want,” said Anwar.

08 Sep 2019

Rabat – Morocco World News sat down to talk to Anwar Bougroug, a 28-year old fashion designer who is quickly making a name for himself thanks to his innovation and distinctive vision.

The uniqueness of Anwar’s designs may be attributed to his upbringing, split between two continents. Anwar was raised in Oslo but came back to Morocco every summer.

After completing his studies in fashion in the Norwegian capital, Anwar moved back to Morocco to put down roots and create his brand in 2016. And so, it was born – simply under his last name “Bougroug.” The label combines the best of both Anwar’s worlds.

“For me, design is essentially about creating functional items in high quality, and when you think about Scandinavian design or Moroccan craftsmanship, that what it comes down to,” said Anwar, explaining how the two different countries have affected his designs.

“I studied and worked in Scandinavia during the initial part of my career so that affects my aesthetic and values tremendously,” he said.

“However, coming to Morocco every summer and making fashion, accessories, and interior with tailors and craftspeople, I always felt I had a special insight on the know-how on how to create unique items in high quality.”

“I love the idea that I can make anything I want here in Morocco.”

The brand, much like Anwar’s upbringing, is shared between Morocco and Scandinavia, with the head office in Stockholm and the production office in Marrakech.

Anwar Bougroug, posing in his own designs.

“Gender-based clothing is a bit ridiculous”

One of the most distinctive elements of Bougroug is that every piece is entirely unisex, a fashion movement that has been gaining momentum in recent years, particularly as gender fluidity becomes more normalized, but is yet to be seen in the windows of most commercial stores.

“I think gender-based clothing is a bit ridiculous since it’s just another set of social codes that human beings made to control society. My brand is about creating the perfect universe, where everyone wears whatever they want wherever they want,” explained Anwar.

“I want to challenge certain gender-related norms, especially toxic masculinity, which I believe is very visible when we create collections and products.”

The unisex element, in addition to the overall minimalism, again shows Anwar’s Scandinavian influences.

“Scandinavian fashion is more about personality and less about your gender, people care more about coolness and how you style things, compared to if things fit your asserted gender or not,” said Anwar.

“I love this idea and I think it celebrates individuality, but most and foremost, it just looks really good when people wear whatever they feel like.”

A brand for socially conscious, open-minded consumers

Anwar’s brand is perfect for the generation that welcomes open-mindedness and pushing boundaries. The brand also reflects the increased awareness of the youth on the importance of sustainability, and a need to hit back against fast fashion.

The brand is still out of the box, and possibly ahead of its time – certainly in Morocco, where clothing is still firmly gendered. However, Anwar has a clear vision of who he pictures wearing his clothes during his design process and that kind of consumer is unquestionably out there.

“I see someone that’s very conscious, both about whom they’re buying from, meaning they want someone that stands for the same values as themselves, but also people that want something special and unique,” Anwar elaborated.

“We’re still a small brand, so we don’t create too much of anything, something that is also part of our sustainability strategy,” said Anwar, something that again reflects the environmental consciousness of Anwar’s generation.

“Additionally, we get custom orders on dresses, shirts, bags and so on, and these people are oftentimes people like ourselves: open-minded individuals that want to contribute and be part of a more tolerant and inclusive world.”

“Anwar’s innovative unisex pieces.

“Be patient, work hard and stay dedicated”

Anwar’s brand, which has such a clear vision, reflects a deep passion for modern design and the societal elements that shape it. This is something that Anwar felt even as a child, split between his colorful summers in Morocco and the sharp and clean designs of Oslo.

‘I was always very fascinated about how clothing could transform a person. Fashion has such power in our society and I find it interesting how everyone is related to this subject, even if they think they’re not,” he explains.

“I was always surrounded by people making clothing or getting things custom made, I even made things for my little sister and took photos of her to copy old Vogue covers.”

“I used to watch fashion shows when I was younger and I was so compelled with how these designers, season after season, created a new world on the catwalk,” said Anwar, reminiscing on his earliest memories of fashion.

“I loved the stories and the romanticism connected to fashion. That’s why I sometimes say that I am more of a storyteller than a designer, even if both of them go hand in hand.”

Of course, even with a strong passion for the industry and natural talent, the road to success in design is still long. Anwar had a few words of advice for other young Moroccans who want to pursue a career in design, but may feel daunted by the uncertain path such a career choice has.

“It’s just about doing it. Give yourself 5 years to get things done, and another 5 years to become more established,” he advised.

“If you have a chance to learn from someone else, do it. Work for other companies and designers, that’s such valuable knowledge and experience that you can live without.”

“Fashion and design are huge topics, it takes many years to fully learn everything and manage a business or a career in it. Be patient, work hard and stay dedicated. That’s what everyone successful in the industry has done previous to their current success.”

Anwar’s brand is stocked in three boutiques in Marrakech, 33 Rue Majorelle, El Fenn Boutique, and the Moroccans. The brand can also be found in Rabat, at the concept store Bee on 6th.

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