Artist Spotlight: loveclosely blends Middle Eastern poetry with Western streetwear

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By Nabeeha Baig

Streetwear brand loveclosely celebrated the release of their winter 2019 collection on March 9 with their “A Night Out” launch party at Geary Lane.

Founder and Ryerson business management grad Taha Yousuf combines Middle Eastern art and poetry into Western streetwear, highlighting the cultural differences between them.

The sold out event began with an exhibit showcasing the new line, followed by live performances from local Toronto artists Maheen, Mauj and Afta Hill, as well as Maryland-based rapper Moe Vision. Throughout the night, event-goers were able to buy pieces from the loveclosely pop-up shop, and enjoy live art customization from artists Hani Pathan and Jaffery.

The collection is called “Bloom” to represent the idea of finding happiness and peace within oneself. “When you pursue your personal passions, that’s when (as cheesy as it sounds) you “bloom”, and you become your best self,” Yousuf said.

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Yousuf aims to tackle misconceptions of the Middle East that exist in mainstream media with the poetic statements on the clothing. “While growing up, we see so much beauty in our history and culture,” he said. “But it’s hard for us to be proud of it due to what we see in the media.”

Second-year urban planning student and creative director Masooma Ali had been studying the formation of ethnic enclaves in Toronto, and drew inspiration from that for the Bloom campaign.

Creative director Masooma Ali and cinematographer Eesha Wajahat.
Photo: Nabeeha Baig

“We all welcome each other’s differences, so I wanted to highlight that with the collection. If you look at the photos, they’re taken at the different enclaves in Toronto, and it was very important for the models to also reflect that diversity,” Ali said. “When it comes down to it, we’re all so similar, despite our differences.”

The Bloom installation featured information cards explaining the history of the neighbourhoods highlighted in the campaign including Kensington, Chinatown, and Little India.

Fatima Nadeem, first-year language and intercultural relations student, said that she hadn’t seen a lot of Middle Eastern representation in the streetwear community like this before. “That’s why I like supporting brands like this—they’re opening doors for creatives in similar situations who want to enter this space, but may be hesitant to because they have no one to look up to,” she said.

All proceeds from the event were donated local Toronto charity Shelter Bus.

To see more of loveclosely’s winter 2019 collection, check out their website or follow them on Instagram.

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