MASTERFULLY FABRICATED; PRECISELY CUT GARMENTS THAT CHALLENGE DESIGN PRINCIPLES
Huddersfield-born Mohsin Ali moved to London in 1995 where he studied at London College of Fashion before going on to work at some of the industry’s most notable houses including Donna Karan. Launching his eponymous brand, MOHSIN in 2010, Ali approaches design with a simple and considered aesthetic; focusing on form, fabric, and function. Dedicated to cut and clean lines, Ali’s manipulation of material is key in realising his precise designs. His critical attitude towards construction is combined with a love for innovative fabrications resulting in pared-back, tailored contemporary garments.
The London-based designer grew up in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire at a time where luxury labels were flashing up on the Northern fashion radar, “It was an interesting time; buyers from retail units in Newcastle, Leeds, and Manchester were fearless, buying whatever they wanted so they could compete to be the best store.” Paving the way sartorially were shops like Strand in Leeds owned by mentor to Ali and LN-CC’s co-founder John Skelton; David Dalby. It was shopping like this that set the look for the house music club scene during the early ‘90s, “You were surrounded by these amazing brands, and at the age of 17, you were strolling around in Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. Spending all your money on clothes because that’s what it was about; getting dressed up and living for the weekend.” This is where the cycle started for Ali, working the week repairing trousers to pay for trips to Manchester’s L’Homme and Barnsley’s Pollyanna to buy brands like Dries Van Noten and Yohji Yamamoto, “That’s how it was; I’d turn up 7-8 pairs of trousers a week and make enough money to buy clothes for the weekend. That’s where my love of clothes came from really; 90s clubbing, house music, rhythm and blues and just seeing all these people getting dressed up for it,” Explains Ali.
From 1996 to 1999 Ali studied Fashion Design at London College of Fashion where he forged his undone tailored aesthetic. It was his graduate collection that was most symbolic, serving as a continuous inspiration even now, “I formed a bond with unfinished garments in my third year with lots of detail, stitched finishes, and raw fabrications. I have always come back to that as I’ve got older,” says Ali. Taking ideas he recollects from past collections and from working with brands including Donna Karan, he brings elements together to create manufactured garments with an updated contemporary approach, “You can’t invent all of the time but having a back data is really important so you can bring things back into what you’re doing and reference them to reinvent.”
Having been practicing the combat sport Muay Thai for fifteen years, Ali finds clarity in his practice that, in turn, translates through his collections, “Sport is a big thing for me; it’s my biggest love – it’s almost like a drug to me.” Fixating on his discipline, Ali escapes the confines of industry tunnel vision and achieves a profound level of lucidity in his approach, “Muay Thai gives me a clearness which allows me to design and understand what I’m doing. That’s the beauty of it because you don’t get all your ideas from a book or a movie or a vintage garment, you get it from yourself and the only way you get that is if your mind is clear,” explains Ali.
Ali’s brand philosophy is founded on three principles: form, fabric, and function. Inextricably linked, the perfect fit and silhouette cannot be achieved without interesting fabrication and the garment must have a reason to exist in order for it to be meaningful. For Ali, his clothes are “real clothes for real people,” albeit sitting in the higher price bracket of the fashion market, it remains important that although someone may not be in a position financially to buy the clothes, they appreciate them as pieces of handcraft, “I want someone to look at them and go ‘you know what, I understand. I don’t have that kind of money but I know what it’s doing.’ That’s a pivotal point for me, getting people to understand because at some point that guy who hasn’t been able to buy it will someday be in a position where he can and who does he want to come back to?” Explains Ali
Working at the center of the London menswear scene, Ali is interested in subcultures that have been born, reused, and re-established. The emergence of a neo-gothic streetwear aesthetic has been very prevalent over the past couple of years with brands like Rick Owens, Damir Doma, and Vêtements all taking cues from punk and street cultures. For Ali, he sees a point in the middle where brands are starting to move away from this aesthetic and focus on well-cut garments with a Japanese sensibility, “Neo-Gothicism has been such a big force that now I think it’s starting to shift away; there are many big brands focusing on this look but it seems that it’s starting to filter out now.” Having loved and appreciated Japanese brands growing up, Ali’s own garments pay homage to labels Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake, with silhouettes that mimic Japanese oversized cut shapes and precise tailoring, “I think this is where it’s all changing; we are going to see more and more people buy into that look and simple, well-cut pieces that have their own identity and their own point of difference. When the younger generation starts understanding it and buying into it I think that’s when it will peak,” Explains Ali.
“Muay Thai gives me a clearness which allows me to design and understand what I’m doing. That’s the beauty of it because you don’t get all your ideas from a book or a movie or a vintage garment, you get it from yourself, and the only way you get that is if your mind is clear”
Looking to the future, Ali wants to hold ethicality and sustainability as core principles of his brand, “The sustainability game is really picking up speed and it’s something I would really like to develop further.” Already utilizing resources, Ali uses swatches of leftover fabric from the collection to create his signature seasonal garment; ‘The Remnant Jacket’ in order to reduce waste and create an individual, hand-cut piece that is unique for the wearer.
The Limited Edition Collection from Mohsin is available now online at Ashby.