Words by Caron Williams
Daily Paper was founded in 2010 and has since risen to become one of the most distinct and authentic streetwear brands globally. The brand was founded in Amsterdam by Abderrahmane Trabsini of Moroccan decent, Jefferson Osei of Ghanian decent and Hussein Suleiman of Somalian decent and is rooted in their respective African heritages. The talented trio recently visited South Africa and shed light on their collaborative range with PUMA, their experience in South Africa, thoughts on the local streetwear market, their close-knit relationship with Riky Rick and the brand’s future.
Q: How did the collaboration with PUMA come about?
DP: We travel a lot to different fashion weeks. We went to about 40 different fashion weeks in the past 5 years and you meet different people along the way. We met Yassine Saidi, who runs PUMA Select, which is the house of collaborations at PUMA. This was about two and a half years ago and not long after that he gave us a call asking if we’d be interested in working together. Then we travelled to where the PUMA HQ is situated and worked there for a couple of days on the collection.
Q: What were you guys trying to convey conceptually with the collection and what was the general inspiration behind it?
DP: The inspiration behind the collection is Maasai cricket. When looking at cricket, we checked out where it’s played and it’s played at all the commonwealth countries including Kenya. Our brand’s aesthetic has the Maasai logo shield which comes from Kenya so that was a great coincidence. So we looked into how the Maasai people play cricket and you can see that they don’t play cricket in traditional cricket clothing. Normally, when you play cricket, you have a polo a chino and a pullover, and you can wear all these items casually or when going out but also when playing cricket and that was so interesting to see them playing cricket in their traditional clothing, so that was the main inspiration for the whole collection.
Q: You were at Sneaker Exchange, how was that experience?
DP: It was amazing to see young kids so aware of what they’re wearing, dressing super fashionably and we’re curious to see how it grows over the next few years. We love what the [Sneaker Exchange] guys are doing in terms of educating the youth about street culture in general. A lot of kids know about the footwear brands but that’s just scratching the surface. There’s a whole other world around that and initiatives like Sneaker Exchange help educate the youth and maybe a few years down the line we’re going to see a lot more international brands distribute here in South Africa and see it become an important market. Every person I know in fashion who has visited South Africa always says they want to do something here. Sneaker exchange could play a really big role in bringing all those international brands out here and give them a platform.
Q: You appear to have very close ties with Riky Rick and BoyzNBucks. How did that come about?
DP: [Jefferson Osei] It happened about 7 years ago. Spoek Mathambo was coming to Amsterdam quite often for shows and one day he was like my friend Riky is coming over could you guys take care of him and at that time Riky’s step dad had a house in Amsterdam so he was staying there and he stayed there for quite a while so we witnessed he’s second stage in music, he’s comeback. He was getting inspired in Amsterdam and when he left his friend was coming for a few shows and he asked if we could take care of him and that’s how we developed that bond. When we came here in 2013, we saw all the BoyzNBucks.
[Abderrahmane Trabsini] When we met Riky, he had just started doing his music again and when he came back, he became huge. When we met we were just starting Daily Paper as well, so it was the start of two journeys. It’s always amazing to see something closely. My favourite memory of him was when we were chilling in the park and he was like ‘yo, when I go back I have to kill it,’ and he came back and he killed it.
[Hussein Suleiman] I used to see Riky every day in Amsterdam, every night we’d end up at his house to record music and he’d use my laptop as an external hard drive. A lot of the songs coming out right now, he recorded back then. I also have about 5 unreleased albums of Riky, so for the right price I’ll leak that.
Q: Daily Paper has a very strong African aesthetic that’s incorporated into the brand. Was this a conscious decision when you founded the brand and why was it so important for you to do so?
DP: Before we started the brand, the thing we had in common was our love for our heritage and where we come from and we wanted to do it in a positive and modern way, so that was the brand aesthetic from the beginning. Our first collection was 5 colourful t-shirts with crazy prints and people really liked it and understood where we came from. Around the time that we came out with this collection, Jay Z was rapping about all black everything and the main brands that were doing very well were brands like Hood By Air, Damir Doma and Rick Owens, and then we come with our collection which was the total opposite of all of that. We were at the Hypebeast office about 3 years ago and we spoke to the guy who posted our first ever article and we asked why he posted it and he said ‘you guys came up with 5 colourful t-shirts in a time where black and white was a trend.’ When you start a brand, there are so many trends you can jump on to make a quick buck, but we are not about that. We wanted to stay true to ourselves and do something with passion. And now, people like what we do because it’s our aesthetic.
Q: What are your aspirations or vision for Daily Paper going forward?
DP: Better collections, we’re always striving for better. We eventually want to produce in Africa; we’re looking into ways to do that. We want to be involved in not just the making of apparel, but be socially involved as well. We want to have more stores; we would love to have a store in South Africa.
Q: What advice would you offer to South Africans who are passionate about streetwear and would like to start their own brands?
DP: Start small, you don’t have to start big. Look at us, we started small and the key is to build a name, naturally grow it and to stay true to yourself.