Bakchic The label: Interview with our designer of the month Sofia El ARABI

A vibrant local fashion scene is emerging in Casablanca through a new wave of young designers and fashion bloggers that are setting the trends and launching authentic local brands.

Morocco possesses some of the world's most beautiful monuments and natural destinations. The true beauty of the country is captured through its magnificent architecture and vintage fashion.

In today's article we are going to introduce you to one of Morocco’s top creative designers who’s been blessing our Instagram feed and closets for 9 years now with vintage modern looks.

Our designer of the month is none other than Sofia EL ARABI, the creative designer behind Bakchic The Label, one of Morocco’s leading brands that has been praised by various respectable fashion publications including Vogue US and Vogue Arabia.

The Bakchic Label is a modern womenswear label that has been promoting the Moroccan heritage since 2013 through ethical fabric sourcing and artisanship while having a global appeal with loyal clients from Kuwait, the UAE, the US, France, Spain, and Morocco.

The brand has showcased traditional garments and styles while adding a much-needed modern twist through innovative beautiful kaftans, embroidered dresses and sweatshirts emblazoned with Arabic letters and slogans that highlight the treasures of Moroccan culture manifesting it in a daily casual wardrobe rather than something reserved for special events and occasions while staying authentic to the country’s aesthetic.

After living in France for eight years and being trained in marketing and finance, Sofia returned to Morocco back in 2013 and had her eyes opened and perspective changed.

With different eyes upon her return, She fell back in love with her country and its heritage and decided to share her love with the world through her hand-made unique products and vintage fabric.

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Credits : Joseph Ouechen

I called Sofia for a wonderful interview that lasted an hour as we bonded over our North African culture and our fascination with Western culture while growing up.

Who is Sofia in 5 words? Describe yourself to the readers?

Artist, Rebel, Perfectionist, Creative and Authentic. Even when I studied serious subjects to please my parents, I've always been interested in the arts and literature. I’ve always been creative. I don’t follow the rules. It shows even in my creations I don’t follow guidelines. My perfectionism sometimes can get a little bit too much though almost manic.

When and how did your passion for fashion start?

When I was young I was only allowed to watch tv only on weekends. After we bought cables I was browsing through channels and found Fashion TV and I got instantly hooked on it. You see us girls coming from Maghrebian countries, when we were exposed to western fashion and the glamor that revolves around it seemed like an unreachable world. I wanted to become a model. Back then it was my goal to grow my height into 1.72 meters even though Kate Moss was 1.69 meters. I drank so much milk, so much yet I only reached 1.68. All my efforts went in vain. But even then I kept wanting to enter the fashion world. I was obsessed with Versace.

How did you dress up when you were young?

When I studied at a French highschool everyone there was fascinated with designer clothes but I was the complete opposite. My fashion sense was like my personality rebel and more rock and roll. I loved going thrifting, wearing vintage clothes and accessorizing. When I started wearing makeup it was always blue and colorful eyeshadows with glitter.

How would you describe your current style?

Now my style can be described as minimalist as I like to stick to the classics like blue jeans and white shirts, adding a touch of fringe or statement accessories from my travels like Brazilian bracelets, embroidered pieces, gold chains and colorful hats. I still do love to be unique in my style and not follow everyone else. I also don’t like to overspend on clothes and always try to stay eco-friendly. I have a Levis jeans that I adore and a few with the same style that keeps ripping and I keep fixing them. 

You launched Bakchic Label in 2013 after you quit your job at a TV station. How did you come to such a career change?

I worked for MBC and it was a great experience working in Dubai. But the thought of changing careers was already in my mind for a while back then. I had a Fashion Blog where I wrote about Fashion tips, styles, lifestyle and even my life. Then, one day I woke up and realized that I didn't want to continue doing this. I wanted to pursue a career in fashion and create something of my own. So I went back to Morocco and bought sewing machines, and fabrics and started redoing some of my family’s Kaftans in my own way and then took photos of my cousin and myself wearing them and posted them online on my website. I didn’t study fashion and wasn’t following any guidelines. Then I received so many positive comments and with the encouragement of my mom, I started Bakchic Label.

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Credits : Joseph Ouechen

What's the meaning behind your brand’s name?

Back in 2005, before there was Instagram, people were starting blogs in France. And in Morocco, no one was doing it. So I started my own Blog which was originally called Fashion Bakchich meaning Fashion Tips but the ‘H’ at the end kept being deleted so I left it as Bakchic.

What message or feeling do you want to convey with the clothes you create?

‘Wear Your Culture Proudly', it’s already the first statement you see in my bio on Instagram. That’s the important message I want to convey to my clients to embrace their culture and wear their identity proudly on a daily basis in a casual way. To promote Arab culture especially since it has a stigma. I want to reshape these mistaken stereotypes regarding the Middle East as it has always been related to terrorism and religion. 

Describe to us a Bakchic woman :

I am Moroccan, I speak three languages, and I am cultured and modern. I want women to feel empowered like I feel. A bakchic client is someone who loves themselves and their country. I always try to shoot in beautiful undiscovered places, always trying to make unique one-pieces so the client always feels special.

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Credits : Joseph Ouechen

Where do you see the brand and yourself in five years?

I would love to have my own atelier with a great team helping me. One in Morocco, in Dubai and in Europe like France. I would love for my brand to stay ethical, sustainable, and authentic without being influenced by others as it is very easy to get sucked in by Instagram, I would much prefer to avoid that.

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I have a swimwear collection that will be posted in the upcoming weeks. I’ve always wanted to do it as I already left space for it on my website. I am currently in the editing phase. And also I am working on a homeware collection too.

What advice can you send to young aspiring designers?

Do not copy others and do not get sucked in by social media. Stay original and do your research well to create something creative and original. Create something of value and don’t focus on money because money doesn't buy you happiness. Read books, go to exhibitions and follow authentic brands to use as a muse. Try to find inspiration from anywhere, even nature, and not get immersed in social media as it can be a black hole so my advice is to only take the positive from it.

What mistakes do you want designers to avoid?

Don’t say no. Try to be flexible and try everything from pop-ups to collaborations. Try to not let any opportunity slip away from you. A mistake I've made is staying in my comfort zone, staying in my structure, and not branching out.

We look forward to Sofia’s new collection as we will keep you updated on the designer's news and upcoming projects. Stay tuned and remember that through the designer’s words: ‘Let’s wear our culture proudly and display our identity for the world to see.’