Here at Queen Anna, we get to present our clients an experience with the brands we love. Most recently, our coveted leather designer, Aleem Arif of Bano eeMee flew to Minneapolis from Toronto with a few suitcases of leathers in tow. After a much successful showcase, we met up with him for a quick Q/A. For those who were not able to make it to the event, you’re in for a treat.
Aleem, your leather designs are just beautiful! You brought along the S/S18 Collection, and I noticed more usage of shape. What’s, was the creative process here?
I start with inspiration that I find all around me through my travels and architecture. I create designs that are unique yet timeless and will evolve to become wardrobe staples in my customer's closets. With every sketch, choice of leather and hardware I strive to create the world’s best leather jackets.
Do you remember your first leather jacket? If so, what was it?
My first leather jacket was a tan biker style leather jacket inspired by icons who made leather jackets “cool” like Joan Jett and Madonna. The coat was designed to encourage confidence, power and a sense of independence
When did you start designing?
I used to work on Wall Street before switching my career to fashion design five years ago. I have always loved fashion and being creative, and I decided to pursue my dream and challenge myself instead of doing what was safe or expected. I chose leather as my medium of artistic expression, and today I am very grateful to be working in the creative industry and following my dream and creating amazing leather jackets.
A question for the aspiring designers out there, how did you get where you are today?
Passion has always driven me and being persistent. Fashion is a robust industry to make a mark especially when you are self-taught, but I did not give up and kept pushing forward. I accepted criticisms and used them to fuel my drive to succeed. I was selected as the top emerging North American designer in 2014 and have met and styled who’s who of the US and Canada in my leathers. I am incredibly grateful for this recognition.
With each piece (leather jackets) being so unique, is there a commonality among your designs?
I always stay true to my product which is well-made leather jackets. I get inspired by my travels, people I meet, social and environmental issues and architecture. I embed these stories into my design through textures, choice of cut, color, and print thereby elevating what was a regular leather jacket to a Bano eeMee leather jacket that exudes uniqueness, attention to detail while still being wearable.
Does your style influence your collections?
My style positively influences my designs. I always think of practicality and how my jackets should enhance my customers’ wardrobes and be comfortable to wear with what they already own. I travel a lot, so I want my pieces to be light, great travel pieces that can be styled in lots of different ways so that my customers get lots of wear out of their Bano eeMee.
The perforated blazer, Adria, is a personal favorite that I pair with everything. Tell me, which one is your favorite?
It’s tough to pick just one design, but that said I love AGUA: an organza/ leather mixed media bomber I designed that the likes of Lady Gaga were styled in.
It is such an honor to be able to share a wealth of knowledge with our followers at Queen Anna. Aleem is one of many designers that will be highlighted this year so make sure you follow along.