Street wear brand, Atelier New Regime raises cultural awareness through design

A large metropolitan city like Montréal boasts sights, cuisine, art, architecture, nightlife and an amazing fashion scene.

After spending six weeks in Montréal, it is evident that fashion is a huge component of what makes this city stand out. Similar to New York and even the growing fashion scene in Calgary, street style is an indication of trends that have really taken off in fashion.

And what’s more impressive is a fashion brand that is able to spread awareness through a popular trend.

Orange is the new…well not so much for Atelier New Regime (ANR) because it is their signature colour.

What started as a hobby for three business partners — Setiz Taheri,Koku Awuye and Gildas Awuye — has turned into one of the coolest street wear brands to come out of Montréal.

Not only have celebrities such as rapper French Montana, Amber Rose and Drake worn the brand, but also ANR, formally known as New Regime, pushes the creative envelope, leaving a unique and thought-provoking impression on the consumer.

According to Taheri, over time the brand has grown to be more than clothing. He says ANR has evolved into an artistic movement run by a collective of creative individuals, whose aim is to express themselves and create social awareness of issues through fashion. Atelier New Regime designers, pictured from left to right: Koku Awuye, Setiz Taheri and Gildas Awuye.

Photo courtesy of Notable.ca

“We started as a brand officially in 2009. It was like a hobby more than anything else and over time, you know, [the brand developed]. None of us went to school for it or anything, but we were really passionate and it grew into a love for fashion and arts and just creating in general,” Taheri says.

At first ANR had humble beginnings, Taheri says. The street wear brand made T-shirts and with the addition of brothers Koku and Gildas, the direction changed.

“Like every other street wear brand, we kind of just started with T-shirts, so that wasn’t too complicated. I kind of attempted to teach myself Photoshop at that point,” he says.

“Over time I met the other members, [they’re] like graphic geniuses, just creative geniuses in general. We were still doing T-shirts then, but we saw the improvement graphically and visually of the brand and it kind of lead to us expanding our collections.”

Both men and women can wear the collections. Taheri says one of the great things about street fashion is that it essentially knows no gender.

“I think in general, in fashion now, women wear a lot of men’s stuff, if they really like it. In our shoots, we show that women can wear [our clothes] and they make them look good,” he says.

ANR creates clothes with a sleek, menswear vibe. The designs infuse elements of modern menswear, high fashion, while adding elements inspired by the culture of Montréal. Taheri also says that a huge source of inspiration for the brand is the cultural diversity that characterizes their hometown.

“I think the number one beauty of Montréal, as a city, is the diversity that we have in cultures. So you know, there’s inspiration everywhere and we come from different backgrounds and together we’ve had different upbringings and different experiences and everything just leads to us putting our stories together and our thoughts,” he says.

As an artistic movement, ANR often uses its garments to raise awareness of social issues.

Taheri says that making clothes that provoke thought and awareness is one the few ways the brand gives back to the community.

According to Taheri, shedding light on diversity and cultural judgment has been a strong theme in recent collections. In the spring/summer 2015 collection, ANR designed a T-shirt called the “Usual Suspect.” The orange T-shirt features a controversial slogan on the back: “department of corrections”.

The ‘Usual Suspect’ T-shirt from Montréal street wear label Atelier New Regime’s spring/summer 2015 collection.

Photo courtesy of Atelier New Regime“That’s kind of our way of shedding light on an important social issue, the whole idea of a book being judged by its cover. We’re in a world right now where there is so much going on, with minorities and the way they are being treated,” he says.

“[The T-shirt] is actually one of our most powerful pieces that we’re very proud of. Maybe sales wise it didn’t do as well, but nobody on our side really cares, you know, because we gave the message that we wanted to give.”

Other fashion companies have used design and clothes to inspire and shed light on a message. For example, H&M launched the Fashion Against Aids campaign in 2008, which featured, T-Shirts designed by popular artists to raise awareness and funds HIV/AIDS prevention projects.

In addition to awareness through design, Taheri says ANR will be working on various events for Breast Cancer Awareness in October, although details are still in the works.

ANR has also worked with local community centres, volunteering and coaching community basketball teams.

“I have background in, well pretty much growing up in community centres, that’s actually what I used to study in. I used to study in human relations and use to work in a youth centre before all this,” says Taheri.

In the future, Taheri says ANR hopes to expand into other Canadian markets, including Calgary.

“We definitely plan on expanding to Calgary amongst other major cities in Canada. It’s just a market we haven’t explored yet,” says Tahari.

For now, ANR is working hard to build a brand that continues to have a great vision.

“We’ve taught ourselves everything because it’s trial and error, [and] at the end of the day, none of us went to school for this, so you know it’s a learning experience for us on a day-to-day basis,” Tahari says. “I would love clearly for the brand to be bigger on an international scale and to be more recognized, and to have our own flagship store in a couple major cities, but you know we are content with the growth of the brand, since we love what we do and we love creating in general.”

abaako@cjournal.ca

Thumbnail photo by Yan Bleney courtesy of Atelier New Regime

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story did not include the reporter’s byline. We regret the mistake.