Après-sport is the novel concept that animates Casablanca, a Parisian menswear brand debuting this week. It comes to you from Charaf Tajer, a 33-year-old French Moroccan, who studied architecture, was associated with the French brand Pigalle “even before day one” (and remains, he says, best friends with Stéphane Ashpool), and ran Le Pompon, a happening Parisian hot spot, for seven years. It’s at this club that Virgil Abloh apparently played his first DJ set. “Le Pompon,” the designer elaborates, “was kind of a dream place for us. We were looking for a place to party, but we never really found exactly what we wanted, so we decided to create our [own].” He applied the same methodology when developing his own line—“a French brand with a souvenir of Morocco,” as he puts it.
Memory is an important aspect of Tajer’s methodology; his mission is to coax ideas and feelings into the real world, to translate the abstract into something material. Twenty years of learning and looking, parties and travel, he says, have been filtered into the brand, which is both a reflection on, and an embellishment of, those experiences. The name Casablanca has personal resonance; it’s the city where his parents met working side by side in a clothing atelier, and where the designer spent his summers as a child. But the idea was not to conjure a specific place. “I mean, Casablanca to me is always a word that sounds like vacation,” says Tajer on the phone from Paris. Its silk shirts and pastel colors give the collection a getaway feel, as well.
Built into Tajer’s concept of vacation is travel and hotel life. If he had a muse, it would be a well-turned-out older gentleman in a robe or linen suit taking five in the hotel spa. This, then, is the après-sport mood, which Tajer defines as “a very comfortable reward after a very strong effort.” Though his debut is called Casablanca Tennis Club, Tajer rejects it being labeled as sporty or as streetwear. “I think streetwear is the time we are in. . . . I think this is a big frame that we are in, but I would say that Casablanca is a menswear brand,” he states firmly.
The collection, which was produced in France and Morocco, and which will be released in a series, contains a mix of T-shirts (around US $60), tailored suits (about US $890), and silk shirts (about US $625). Some with custom prints made from commissioned watercolors have already elicited a positive response—including from womenswear buyers.
Tajer intends his tracksuit, made using a high-quality proprietary cotton, to be the label’s classic. Conceived as a uniform, it epitomizes, the designer says, “how to be elegant with a simple outfit. At the end of the day, I just think beauty really matters.” So does luxury, but not of an old-fashioned kind. “I believe that luxury today is not really a matter of price,” he states. “I would say that luxury is more defined by a set of mind and [culture], that a type of knowledge and a type of curation could sometimes be more luxury than something more expensive.” He likens what’s happening in fashion today to what occurred 30 years ago when Kenzo, Comme des Garçons, and Vivienne Westwood shook up the industry. “I think there was this wave of new designers who redefined luxury [then],” says Tajer, “and I hope that I’m one of those guys who redefines the luxury brands of today.”
This article first appeared on Vogue.com