Discovering the new Tunisian streetwear brand: Lost Jeel

Hello Maft readers! We’re back again to talk about the latest emerging brand hitting the streetwear market these days. I stumbled upon ‘Lost Jeel’ through my Instagram feed as I saw a few friends of mine sharing their new hoodies with these unique and parodic captions.

So I dug in to give you the scoop.

Lost Jeel is a streetwear brand that aims to prove that this generation is not lost through sarcastic, humorist, and relatable designs.

I sat down with its founder, 27-year-old Amir Jbili from Sousse who was born and raised for 6 years in Austria then moved to Vienna after graduating from high school to study business before dropping his degree and moving back to Tunisia to kick-start his first streetwear brand.

‘I left Vienna and business school to come back to Tunisia and launch my streetwear brand.’

How did your journey with fashion start?

'I've had the fashion fever since I can remember. I loved clothes and dressing up. I would spend every penny I had on clothes and limited editions. Perhaps it's because of my mother if we had to get to the root of it. She was new to the country, and it was a bit hard on her to make friends with my dad working different shifts and all. I guess to cope with loneliness she loved dressing me up in every style and color you could possibly think of. My dad showed me pictures of my childhood, and I am still shocked. Maybe subconsciously I fell in love with clothes because of that.'

How was Lost Jeel born?

'I was in Vienna studying business in 2020. I found myself losing interest in what i was studying, and i couldn't picture myself having an office job and working in that field. So i decided to drop everything and come back to Tunis to launch my brand. Leaving Vienna and my business degree might look like an impulsive decision, but I can assure you it wasn't. My business classes taught me a lot. I did a lot of market research and found out that the best place to start a business is in your home country because you know the people, culture and not to mention support. So i quit university, worked for a while to raise some funds, and then came back home and started working on my project.'

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Are we a Lost Jeel?

'We have been a Lost Jeel since birth, born as "a lost or wrong generation" in the wrong context and time within a restrictive mentality. Every time we try to do something out of the norm, different, or against society’s rules we’re called lost. A lost generation that doesn't have a clear purpose. Even my parents when I first told them about my decision to leave school were skeptical and gave me the lecture that i'll be wasting my life and will lose my path. Thankfully i made sure to reassure them about my strategy and vision. And they’ve been supporting me so much since then. I am very grateful for that.'

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What’s your creative vision for the brand?

'I am not a designer. I am a creative person who’s passionate about clothes and graphic design.

I always wanted to study fashion because i wanted to practice fashion as a career, and then i read an article that showed me that i can enter the industry without needing to be a designer who can make clothes on a technical level. I wanted to create a brand name that sends a message and not just a brand logo. I wanted my first creations to be self-explanatory. A brand that speaks to my audience and is relatable. My creations are inspired by our reality and deconstructed into sarcastic designs that would appeal to our community. Each collection has to have a unique theme and concept that would pop out. I'd hate to create something out of context.'

Who are your inspirations?

'I was devastated when Virgil Abloh passed away. He inspired me so much with his style and support for young creatives. He was one of the important columns in the industry. The way he expressed and reacted to things inspired me so much. We’ve lost a legend. There’s also Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia and Kanye West who I seek for motivation. I am very fascinated with Demna and the work he’s been doing lately. He’s deconstructing and challenging so many norms and fashion constructs. He’s doing what so many designers are afraid to do and transforming fashion as we know it.'

How was this project perceived?

'Honestly, I've gotten so much support, and i'm so thankful for that. I am very proactive by nature, and I'm not afraid to ask for help and reach out to people. I’ve made so many friends and met so many people. My designs in this collection broke the social barriers. Every day, every time I wore something from the collection people would come up to me and ask me about the meaning behind it, and we’d laugh about it. It created a community and an opportunity to connect with strangers.'

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What about your business strategy? How do you see Lost Jeel growing?

'I am going to give it my all to have no regrets. I am here to leave an imprint. I hope my vision succeeds here in Tunis and hopefully, we will be conquering the European market next. I love Vienna and would love to go back. I am happy with my small community and niche. I want each customer to be happy with what he bought for years to come. I am going to expand, of course, i have so many ideas to bring to life. It won't be just about clothes, accessories too. My collections are limited edition, with no restocking.  Slow production and quality, that’s the number one priority. I want the customer to feel special wearing something unique. I want them to believe in the brand and have conviction and awareness in what they are buying.

Tell us about your collaborations in the Tunisian Rap/Hip Hop scene?

'I am very happy with the emerging rap scene in Tunis. They’re creating a healthy community and collaborating and getting the recognition they deserve. They’re growing together which is much better to rise alongside each other than separately. I'm glad that i get to support them and feel proud when they agreed to wear my product and believe in my brand. I’ve met Katybon, KOAST, Naqqa, and A.L.A recently too. It's awesome if they show love and support to the brand, but I mainly reach out to them because I am a fan before anything else, who believes in them and loves the work they’ve been creating as artists. I just want to show love and support to anyone who’s doing something they’re passionate about.'

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What can we expect next?

'My goal is not only to sell. What comes first, is to make clothes that speak to people, create a community, and support artists and emerging creatives. If I see you’re doing something that you’re passionate about and happy with, then I would gladly support you. I’ll be wrapping up this collection in a few weeks, and then we'll be dropping something we're very excited about. It’s a surprise, i can’t reveal much right now, but I can assure you that it's going to be a hit.'

What message do you want to send this Lost Jeel?

'Do what you love. Do not let people discourage you or demotivate you. You’re going to have supporters and haters in everything you do. If you have a passion, stick to it and fight for it. It’s better to try and give it a go than not trying at all.'

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