Updated: May 5, 2021
Fashion designer, filmmaker, freelance photographer; Karim Younis is an innovative creative with a strong vision. As a designer, he specialises in constructing contemporary and traditional menswear. In his work, he focuses on themes of humanity versus technology, encompassing influences from the 'New French Extremity', 'Posthumanism' and 'Transhumanism' movements, amongst others. Throughout his career, Karim has worked with The British Film Institute, Make a Difference Entertainment and JoliToBe Clothing. Here Karim answered TNE's questions about his collections and his aspirations for the industry.
What drove you towards fashion design?
“Initially, I wasn’t interested in fashion. As a child, I had planned to study law and become a barrister, yet when I studied GCSEs, I realised that my perception of that career path was almost fantasy-like. I would have hated it in the long run, even though I saw it as a great career, I would not have been able to handle that amount of paperwork.
That is where it clicked. I loved the creative industry over the academic world; that pushed me towards studying film and television production in college. Although I enjoyed creating, directing and producing films, something felt slightly off.
While others were all watching the newest marvel release, I was looking at fashion photographers such as Christina Paik, fashion designers like Raf Simons and campaigns for the newest seasons from all the fashion weeks.
The world of fashion seemed magical to me and within my reach. My mother taught me how to sew and work with mannequins from a young age, but I never had use for the skills then. That is where the disputes started as I tried to convince my tutor to let me work with the fashion department on my time off. Eventually, they gave in, and from then I realised who I wanted to be.”
What was your first collection, and how do you look back at it now?
“Officially, I developed my first collection in my first year of university called ‘Man and Machine’. Throughout that project, I looked at natural forms: plants, nature and the human body, exploring how technology can embed itself into it such as a leaf with a metal skeleton etc.
This collection, I have to admit, was quite barebones compared to what I look at now, yet it was a starting block that kicked off my career. Unofficially, I created my first (and unfinished) collection prior to starting university. While in college, I conceptualised the “Anti-Human Heartbreak” collection, influenced by war-torn clothing and war correspondents. I combined the two into a graphics-heavy, punk-ish collection.
As stated earlier, they are both considerably weaker than what I look at now, but every time I look back at them, I can sense the energy and passion still attached to the work, and as such, I always use my old work as reminders of what I have achieved to this day.”
Who do you design your pieces for?
“When I design something, I tend not to look at an audience to avoid restricting my train of thought. When I work, I have always said, ‘I don’t care who wears what I make, as long as the person is confident in what they wear.’ The way I see fashion is that if you are not comfortable/confident in what you wear, then it’s not for you. Find something you like wearing and wear it.”
What are your hopes for the future of the industry?
“That’s a tough question; everyone has their perception of what they want it to be. I have to admit, some of my takes on particular topics regarding the industry are controversial in the current political and environmental climate.
However, I digress. One element that I hope changes is the treatment of new designers who are learning the ropes. The fashion industry treats new designers poorly. Many are often the subject of ridicule and criticism unless they have the financial advantage to pay their way through the ranks. For many new creatives, this dynamic triggers self-doubt and even issues with mental health.
It’s known that many give up on the industry altogether and settle for a career they didn’t want to do. Another catalyst for this environment is the public media, particularly outlets that use clickbait titles and sensationalise stories. For creatives, when a small issue is blown out of proportion, it can have a lasting effect on the individual. That is why I only look at particular media sources; art, fashion, music magazines and independent news outlets to keep up to date with the world.”
Ultimately, where do you want to take your brand?
“I want to use my brand as a platform in which I can create opportunities for young creatives to have a step up on the ladder. I want to offer internship programmes for anyone that has got the passion and a scholarship grant for underprivileged creatives to get into any university of their choice.
My brand is not only dedicated to fashion. It will continue with other avenues such as music, film production, art etc. so any creative can learn from it and work with it. The reason I want this from my brand is that I have had to fight to get where I am now. These opportunities weren’t there when I needed them, so I want to give them to others.”