“I like simple things. I don’t want to overthink and waste time”, says 25-year-old Tunisian-German designer Mohamed Ali Gasmi, who launched ALI in 2018.
Gasmi, who exclusively works with head-to-toe black, something he deems an “essential”, uses his dual heritage as his main source of inspiration. Having just released his first genderless collection, Gasmi has no plans to follow seasons or trends, which couldn’t be more pivotal at a time when making the fashion industry more sustainable has never been more urgent.
Gasmi explains that his passion for design comes from how he used to use clothes as an emotional shield. “I was an introvert kid and people bullied me in school”, he says before adding, “but once my grandma took me to a vintage shop and I got Levi’s jeans. Everyone was shocked in school the next day. That purchase literally changed my life and ever since, I have seen fashion as my protection”.
Gasmi moved to Paris in 2015, where he learned the ropes by interning for designer Rad Hourani— who not only had a huge influence on Gasmi’s simplistic and classically rigorous aesthetic, but also on the fundamental DNA of his brand’s strategy. “I wanted my brand to be named ‘Maison Ali Gasmi Paris’ but Rad told me I should stick to ALI and what authentically reflects who I am”.
Gasmi then went on to work for Y/Project in 2017, where he worked his way from the showroom to the production team. “I believe in learning by doing and this experience made me learn everything””, he says referring to his formative years.
But now he’s ready to stand on his own two feet and send a strong message out, while retaining his desire to be sincere and tell his personal story. His pieces (which can easily be worn over and over again) are inspired by the nonchalance of traditional North African garments, but simultaneously express an element of German sophistication and seriousness.
As an advocate for gender fluidity and inclusivity, he explains that his long and wide pyjama-inspired silhouettes actually pay homage to his hijabi mother, who always preferred to wear dark loose-fitting dresses and trousers.
Pouring his deepest memories straight into his designs, ALI’s strength is its touch of melancholia. The result is a unique combination of strength and delicacy that we love. “After all that fashion has done to me, I feel like it’s my time to give back”, he says.
Photography by Ismael Bazri