The modern day Tailor as he calls himself, Abtahee Al Wasee, is one of the founders of Eastern Influence clothing line, a total expert on men’s fashion and the co-owner of an event management company called Culture Collab.
During a conversation with him we dissect the ins and outs of starting an online clothing business, his personal journey with EI and the effects of the pandemic on his business.
I think I once wrote a very narcissistic piece about me for an interview, and while its super douchey, I would argue its pretty spot on, haha.
“I have a deep learning and understanding of fashion and trends, street-wear culture, tailoring, law (especially that of contrasting between UK and local), Politics and International Relationship, (Young) entrepreneurship, and gen-z communtications.
My opinions are strong, and my logic never proves to be a fallacy.
My methods are unorthodox, but seldom prove to be inaccurate.”
I am Abtahee Al Wasee, a student of the University of London’s distance-learning program (through LCLS South), I’m about to start my second year of my LLB degree. I am one of the founders of Eastern Influence, my clothing line. I also co-own an event management company called “Culture Collab”. I work with brand affiliations and moderation for the satirical page, “CMB Batash-for people who are not poor”.
What was your idea behind Eastern Influence and how did you start the business?
Way before EI (Eastern Influence) even started, I was designing my own pieces and getting them made, I was customizing them off of the internet and wearing them. I kept asking, would this fit in my wardrobe? Do I personally fuck with this? It was almost a matter of “when” I was going to drop a clothing line than a question of “if”. But and it almost seems funny to me now, I always trashed the idea because I didn’t want to step into business or entrepreneurship. You see for the longest time, I really romanticized the idea of working a high paying job rather than actually starting a company. So the idea of launching EI really was not something I anticipated to be a reality.
How has your passion for fashion influenced you into making this brand come to life?
The journey of EI has been amazing! We’ve gotten crazy amounts of love, and even more hate. But that’s saying something, if you look at any of the biggest designers ever, they made it because they were hated or ridiculed. In the fashion industry, if the hate is not spawned by you ripping off other’s ideas, it usually means your head is in the right direction. To be in conversation is the second-highest form of flattery. Currently we have around a team of 10, and then a BUNCH of affiliate members that drop in for every specific product.
What is the team like currently and how has the journey been so far?
The pandemic has been a bitch. For most of us it has been around 90ish days of quarantine. But you see we source the raw materials of our products from China, and that’s been on halt pretty much from the start of the year. We should have released, or should have been close to releasing, Drop 6 by now. And yes, because of Mr. “Rona”, we’re stuck on the alpha stage of Drop 5.
What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs with start-ups?
We haven’t really made any losses during this pandemic, granted we didn’t make money either, but the way the finance is structured, we’re very stable right now. The question is how we bounce back. You see clothing isn’t a necessity in the sense that if you and I chose not to buy any clothes for the next few years, we would easily survive. This means that with the economic turmoil, for clothing brands to truly rise back up, it will take effectively double the time of other industries.
What are your plans for the future of this brand?
“I’d advise other young entrepreneurs to stop taking advise from me and legitimately doing research on their field. I’m nobody, look at the greats and try to execute and adapt on their models. I would argue that the best thing to do is a little bit of taking a risk, and a lot of research on deciding the merits of that risk—a leap of faith, if you will.”