Moorish motifs in fashion collection Urban Birds

Sarah El Mahi
Sarah El Mahi

Designs by Sarah El Mahi
Photography & Styling by Sarah El Mahi
Collection: sneakers #URBANBIRDS
Model: Oussama


A while ago I met a young designer of Moroccan origin in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Sarah El Mahi created a remarkable collection in her last year at the fashion academy Willem de Kooning.  Her graduation project called Urban Birds consists of a men’s fashion collection in Moorish geometric patterns. El Mahi sourced her inspiration from her own background.

“What I find, as a designer, significant in my collection, is my own background, where I come from, and how this collection came into being. In my view, authenticity and roots are central to my work. My aim was to translate this in a modern way that appeals to ‘new generations’ and inspires the imagination.” She was also moved by the documentary Earthflight which she saw as a metaphor for her own generation. “How birds migrate to the north, in search of food for survival for a new generation. I see this story as a metaphor for my own generation, and where I came from, and the ‘trek’ my parents effected.”

The collection mainly consists of sportswear and streetwear in Moorish patterns. Simple looking shapes, low-crotch, puffed sleeves and subtly adorned with the occasional feather. “For my Urban Birds collection it’s important to present an image that appeals as streetwear. I went looking for a male type that embodies the ‘urban bird’. To create the urban look and feel I felt it was important to work with different identities and represent the multicultural society.”

Designs by Sarah El Mahi
Photography & Styling by Sarah El Mahi
Collection: #URBANBIRDS
Model: Serge Harten

El Mahi poses herself the question why people today increasingly feel the need for unity and authenticity – a return to where one really comes from. “I am thinking of the journey of my parents. The longing for freedom, for a better life, all reasons for emigration. When I revisit the idea of emigration I am reminded that it isn’t just a trait of us humans, but of birds too.”

The young designer became inspired by the documentary Eartflight. This documentary allows you to see how a bird makes this journey around the world with the purpose of survival for a new generation, literally from of a bird’s-eye view. The young designer sees it as a social phenomenon. “One cannot make the trek alone, we need each other in order to do that. Just like birds migrate in flocks and make a move as a collective.”

And she carries the comparison even further: “We have evolved into urban birds that have adapted to their surroundings to survive. Meanwhile, we all long for our freedom, our flight to return. It’s a fantasy, but at the same time we are just like those birds in the city.”

Designs by Sarah El Mahi
Photography & Styling by Sarah El Mahi
Collection: #URBANBIRDS of Collection: #BACKTOMYROOTS
Models: Urbian Kosten, Wadie el Fakhari, Serge Harten, Arman Zounouzy, Oussama & Youness
www.sarahelmahi.com

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