Calling for diversity and inclusivity, Bougroug captures Morocco in transition — deconstructing gendered Arab beauty, right from the brand’s base in the ancient city of Marrakech. “We chose to work with beauty that is not necessarily associated with the region,” Bougroug’s eponymous founder Anwar Bougroug tells MILLE, “As Arab people, we’re so diverse: we’re black, brown and white all at once, we’re so mixed and we have so much history as a people, which is something I want to show.”
This is made cyrstal clear in Bougroug’s new lookbook, which is captured by Istanbul-based fashion photographer Beste Zeybel in Marrakesh. Zeybel captures Bougroug’s latest collection, entitled HUMA, using the genderless silhouettes and sizing, which are the brand’s signature, as a prism to celebrate the beauty of Morocco and its people (while maintaining an effortless Scandinavian edge).
With the name of the collection stemming from the Arabic noun for “they”, the collection and Zeybel’s photostory capture a contradictory Morocco, with contemporary society straddling traditional patchwork and rapid development.
Addressing Morocco’s ongoing gender equality debate, with its complex intersections in both race and identity, Bougroug believes that only change can bring about Morocco’s gender revolution. “I think genderless fashion reminds us about how important acceptance and diversity is in our society,” Anwar says, “everyone should be able to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, be who they want to be, and just buy whatever they feels empowers them.”
“Challenging masculinity has always been on our agenda,” continues Anwar, “we believe masculinity in the region is toxic, and men need to liberate themselves in order for us to move forward.”
Bougroug channels this subversive attitude through visual storytelling, and Zeybel’s photostory is a testament to that. Featuring figures moving through sandy landscapes appearing more sci-fi and dystopian than ancient and dusty, the models hold mirrors up to themselves, reflecting a Morocco that’s in the midst of change. A Morocco that’s free of gender constraints.
“Many genderless designers tend to be more on the “feminine” side so to speak,” adds Anwar, “playing with elements from womenswear which is the most commercial and safe way to be genderless. We are trying to apply a gender-free strategy, which means you’ll find elements and inspiration from all genders in all items. That way our collections are free from any gender, and people won’t be able to recognise if it’s for men or women. When we achieve that I personally feel we have created the best product or collection”.