The first time I met Fahmy Ismail, I found a tall, good-natured guy with a wide grin on his face who paid a surprise visit to our office in Central Plaza, and dropped off boxes filled to the brim with snacks! Ever since then and despite his busy schedule running his business, I'd see him repeatedly making the tour to TaF.tc, visiting his old teachers and advisors, and putting a smile on everyone's faces.
Fahmy is not only our adored graduate, but also the founder of Kerbside&Co., a homegrown, utilitarian denim label that focuses on Americana heritage workwear styles.
Fast-forward two and a half years and I finally get the pleasure to interview the man himself on his unique love for denim, and the story of how he started his label, Kerbside&Co.
I see brands selling denim jeans but not many of them come from a vintage workwear background or from a collectors point of view. So I decided to use what I know to create something that I can offer to the market.
From a young age, I have always been fascinated with how a pair of jeans evolve. Once I had my own capacity to buy my first pair of Levi’s 501, I purchased them and turned them inside out and was thoroughly impressed by what I saw. But none more fascinating as when I started collecting vintage jeans a few years later. Kerbside&Co. launched its first garment in the form of a pair of jeans, naturally.
When I first started, I tend to focus on the international market, mainly Americans and Europeans. I was eyeing the discerning denim crowd who understood what it means to pay for a pair of jeans without baulking at the price. It was definitely not meant for the mass market. As time went on, I saw locals become my regulars as they slowly began to appreciate what I was doing. I only use Instagram, even till now. My customers post their outfits and my products online, and it gained traction from there.
I took the Diploma in Merchandising and Marketing (rebranded to Fashion Business) and there are a number of modules in there that helped me navigate certain complexities when I am faced with challenges (which is aplenty, I can assure you). Understanding patterns, costing and production management was crucial for me.
Just high quality fabric and good hardware that gets more beautiful with age and can withstand the rigours of life. I come from a vintage wear perspective, remember?
The garments have to be well constructed with the best possible material you can afford. Keep the gimmicks out. The simpler the items look, the more you have to restrain from overdoing it.
Never underestimate the amount of money you have to plough into the business. I see many streetwear brands appearing on the market with tee shirts being the starting point for most of them, perhaps it is the most affordable way of breaking into the scene. End of the day, it very much depends on what you are trying to achieve with your label – quick turnaround for profit or something you enjoy doing without the monetary rewards being a major factor.
Streamlining my collection to make it more cohesive. And working with a designer to come up with something that is a bit out of my comfort zone. Hopefully it will be launched in the second half of 2021.
It was a pleasure to hear your story, Fahmy. Visit Fahmy's website at www.kerbside-co.com, and if you're interested to learn more about the Fashion Business Diploma that Fahmy took at TaF.tc, ask Mengqian about it at 8668 1050.
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