Talking With illVibes CEO, Mehdi

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We don’t sell clothes, we sell vibes. It’s part of where the name comes from.The brand broke the scene in 2018 with their original No Face, No Case hoodies and the ascent was fast. Housed in the Flasher store on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles, that visibility and marketing lead to the brand’s connections to the likes of Lil Baby, FreshDuzIt, Blocboy JB, Poloboy Nunu, Parris LaDame, and more.
On January 11th, 2021 the illVibes clothing brand released their Winter ٢٠٢١ collection, featuring the Almas, Paisley, and Camouflage sets of the new illVibes Arabic print flagship logo. Here’s a curated rendition of our interview.


Profuse Habits: My guy, I appreciate you taking the time to tap in with me on behalf of Topview0. Congrats on the recent drop!Mehdi: Of course bro; gratitude for the opportunity.


Profuse Habits: Let’s get right into it. I want to contextualize things for people before we get started and give the readers a chance to learn a bit about you personally. Where were you born? What was life like before illVibes? I wanna build a team — I want my family to eat.

Mehdi: Ok bet. So I was born in Casa Blanca, Morocco. We moved to NY because my dad found work there. I remember living in New York, but I was so young and my parents were immigrants, I didn’t really get a chance to experience the New York culture. By the time my parents decided to move to Indy, I was a homebody. I was about 10 when I got here, so I like to say Indy is where I really developed culturally in my teenage years. 

Profuse Habits: I feel that, I tell people NY was a different place in the early 2000s — it wasn’t really safe, so that makes sense. What were you into in high school? Were you into fashion? 

Mehdi: I wasn’t super driven in high school honestly. I hate to say it like this, but when I was young, I was good at pretty much anything I picked up, so things never really held my interest. I got good grades, but that was pretty much it. Other than that, it was just kicking it with my guys. We were into music, fashion and having a good time — typical high school stuff.

Profuse Habits: So when did illVibes and fashion design come into play for you? 

Mehdi: Honestly, it didn’t happen until around 2017. At the time I was going to IU and working two jobs while in the Kelley School of Business. I was breaking my back just to pay tuition and it just didn’t make any sense to me, so I decided to head home and figure things out from there. The irony of that was I hated people telling me what to do, so I hated jobs and didn’t wanna work for anybody. I never applied for one, it was always through a person — like knowing the owner or something. Anyways, one of my friends was managing a clothing store and convinced me to come work with him. I was into fashion and thought it would be cool to work with bro, so I did. That was my first exposure to the “fashion industry” for real. 

“Luxury is about simplicity”

MEDHI

Profuse Habits: Dope. What did you learn there? How did it influence you in starting your own brand? 

Mehdi: It helped me understand the back end. I feel like I’m fly and know how to talk, so selling clothes was never the problem. I didn’t know anything about clothing, vendors, sourcing & buying — none of it. So that gave me an understanding of the back end of the business. 
I also was inspired by a lot of brands working there. I watched the major brands we carried and took note of what I liked and didn’t. I watched a brand called Hudson a lot — I watched how they would take every popular trend out at the time and reuse the concept for themselves. I hated that approach, but I also peeped at how profitable they were. I knew it wasn’t sustainable though, so I told myself that if I ever got into fashion, my product would be the most unique thing out. It’s what our design principle is based on: we don’t compare ourselves to others.


Profuse Habits: That’s a solid foundation to build off for sure. So when did you say: “Alright, I’m going to design for myself”?

Mehdi: It’s funny. Almost as soon as I started that job, I also started designing t-shirts for myself on a random t-shirt maker online. I think it was spreadshirts.com. I remember the first shirt: “Chase A Check, Never Chase A Chick.”, and I still have all of the pics from it. The day I wore it, I kid you not, at least 20 people asked me about where I got it from, and that’s where designing started. Then I wore it to work and people started asking me about it. One day, someone asked me for a custom shirt to match some Jordans that had just been released. He liked my shirt and wanted it in his shoes’ colors. I never turn down a request, so even though I hadn’t been selling them, I got it produced for him. After that, I started playing with the idea of getting it in the store. I planned out a custom drop for the red & blue 5’s in May of 2017, got to work, and did really well. I did 5 more drops at the store with the brand, so it was a great way to get introduced to the retail game.


Profuse Habits: Amazing. So when did the illVibes brand come into play? Was it incorporated into those first few drops? What was the inspiration behind it? 

Mehdi: Yeah, Almost immediately. Definitely with the first release in 2018 and it’s been a staple since with other releases like our No Face, No Case set. In terms of where it came from, “ill” was a part of our lingo growing up, I don’t know, it’s like a staple of hip-hop (or at least was). And then for me, clothes, fashion, music — all of it has always been part of a person’s vibe — what makes a person unique.So you mix that with my favorite word, “ill” and you get the name. 


Profuse Habits: Legit. Crazy what 365 can do for a vision. ‘I’ve definitely wondered about that and know others have too. So tell us about the latest drop, it’s Winter ٢٠٢١ and the fonts, patterns, and textures you incorporated were next level.

Mehdi: I appreciate that my brother. This one was a long time coming — it’s funny that you bring up 365 because that’s about how many days it took to develop, design, and produce this release. I developed 3 different concepts for this release: Almas, Paisley, and a limited Camouflage hoodie.”We don’t complete. We find inspiration in other brands, but we want to create something unique.

Profuse Habits: Break down the context of each a bit for us, starting with Almas. Medhi: With Almas, I wanted to focus on getting back to my roots. I am Morrocan and we speak Arabic, so I incorporated the font in our new main logotype. I have been wearing a lot of v-lone and was inspired by the cuts of their tees, so I wanted our hoodies to have a similar length. I always incorporate embroidery in my collections and did so Almas as well. We embellished the logotype with custom Swarovski crystals to give it a sophisticated finish.

“We are a luxury streetwear brand.”

Medhi


With the Camouflage & Paisley sets, I wanted to incorporate my story & surroundings as a Midwest kid. Living in Indiana I see that both prints every day. At the gas station. At the mall. Everywhere. So I said imma use it, but imma trap it out. They affect my senses so much, I had to make them part of the art.


Profuse Habits: Love how you’ve weaved your story into the concepts to make it something we can connect with on a deeper level. Can you talk about some of the media from the shoot? It looked like you hit a couple of major cities for this campaign, tell us about that. 

Mehdi: So we did a content tour (LA & ATL) curated by Topview0. We actually had NY on the itinerary as well but decided to cancel that, spread ourselves less thin and focus on quality. In LA, our close friends (aka the family) did a private mansion shoot & launched at Flasher LA release (anyone in LA be sure to hit Melrose) . ATL was all street scenes and grungy film vibes with more of our people. 
Big shoutout to Marii Gray, Taylor Hall, Ivee, and all the other models for working with us. JSHOOTIN & Canon Caleb went crazy on the lens and Sam B was the playmaker running point for the project.

Profuse Habits: Definitely some big influencer names out here, and the content came out crazy. So now we’ve talked about your background, these concepts are dope, so to end it all off I’m gonna ask the redundant question: what makes illVibes different from any other streetwear brand in your eyes?

Mehdi: Honestly, I would refer to my previous mantra. We don’t compete with other brands or designers. We may find inspiration in other brands, but we want to create something unique. I guess the other thing is that this was all born out of wanting to connect with others. illVibes is about family. It’s designed by us, cut & sewn by us. There are actual family members of mine that EAT because of illVibes. So it’s deeper than clothes. This is a way out for people – I want to be able to change people’s lives through illVibes. I wanna build a team that grows together— I want my family to eat.

Profuse Habits: Inspirational my brother. Real talk. Mehdi: Man, it’s a blessing for real. People don’t really think about the time and dedication it takes. So I’m just glad we are moving forward. 
Profuse Habits: Definitely moving at a good pace. So clue the people in on everywhere they can find the drop brother.

Mehdi: Bet. Check us out on our website at illvibes.store, on Instagram at @illvibesclothing. And if you want, follow me on IG too at @illVibesCEO. 


Profuse Habits: The people definitely gotta tap in. Any last words my brother? What’s in store for 2021?

Mehdi: 2021 is going to set a new stage for illVibes— summer collection on the way. Been working with a designer who’s worked with some major streetwear royalty in the past to develop the Summer 2021 capsule, so that’s gonna be big. I’m also moving production to the US to get closer to the process and work closer with vendors. We’ve got a lot in store, but creating and setting the new stage is the focus. 
illVibes entire collection is now available for retail exclusively at Flasher on Melrose Ave and online at illvibes.store

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