“Some of us like skateboarding, some of us are into rap. Being Arab is complex like being European is. By that I’m referring to the cultural and societal differences amongst countries, which each have their own idiosyncrasies,” the Mille World founder says. She further adds, “Our parents’ minds were too colonized in some ways and too traditional in others. This current generation of young Arabs positions itself in between tradition and the modern, whilst breaking a lot of societal taboos. ’What does it mean to be a young Arab today?,’ every day we try to answer this question through fashion, art, food and opinion pieces,” the 35-year-old media entrepreneur says of the brand which discusses hot topics, ranging from contemporary feminism to racism in the Arab world.
On the retail end of things Isaure Bouyssonie, a product designer in her twenties, provides a breath of fresh air locally. She founded her concept store named Supersouk, alongside partner Marlo Kara in the year 2016. “After the Revolution, prêt-à-porter apparel started becoming a more lucrative business in Tunisia,” Isaure says. Her concept store sells ready-to-wear designs by local brands including young up-and-comers such as Samaka. On top of that, the concept store houses homeware, contemporary art, and accessories. “My husband and I started by retailing 10 different brands and today that number has increased to about 100. We attract quite a niche audience of young people, but amidst our customer base there are also many around the age of 40,” the female half of the Supersouk couple concludes.
From a Western media point of view, the United Arab Emirates melting pot Dubai typically takes credit for all things progressive relating to the Arab world. Nonetheless, within the context of fashion, the Supersouk co-founder’s native Tunisia is currently the only Arab-majority country to organize the internationally coveted Elite Model Look search. Additionally, it’s the native land of late fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa and home to one of the longest-running fashion weeks (10 years, to be exact) in the MENA region.
The 30-year-old fashion designer Seyf Dean Laouiti founded his brand Narciso in the year 2012, and has since gone on to present one of the more popular collections at Tunis’ fashion week. Local youths make for a significant portion of Laouiti’s following, and the designer mentions his biker jackets and signature “toy-bags” as best-sellers. “I think that Tunisian millennials are in search of an identity, and they express this through their fashion. What draws them to my brand is that I offer three key elements in my designs: every look must be socially relevant, interactive, and feel unique. I think in terms of connectivity when it comes to fashion. I like to think that I know my fellow Tunisians, which makes it possible for me to dress them,” the Narciso founder shares.
Eya Chamakh, a 24-year-old lawyer and fashion week regular, recognizes the genius of Seyf Dean Laouiti whilst also expressing her support for another Tunisian rising star, “Besides Seyf, one of my favorite designers is Ali Karoui. He’s known for his chic, glamorous designs, as he tends to use a lot of lace, silk, and tulle. I love his eye for detail, especially when it comes to embroideries. This year he dressed Chinese actress Fan Bingbing for the Cannes Film Festival red carpet,” the Tunis fashion consumer shares. She concludes, “The fashion industry in Tunis is growing slowly but steadily. Work remains to be done in order for us to be recognized on the global stage, but we’re on the right track.”