LEARNING THE ROAD TO SUCCESS OF THESE INNOVATIVE DESIGNERS
WRITTEN BY: GENESIS GONZALEZ PHOTOGRAPHED BY: ADAM GENTRY
When we are young, we find ourselves asking the question, what do we want to be when we grow up? For most, it would be a doctor, astronaut, or even an actor. But for some, aspiring to take a true passion, and even a hobby into a thriving and fun career is an exciting journey to live for. For four brothers, turning their everyday joys of surfing, skateboarding and listening to music was the beginning of what would become a successful clothing brand known as Civil Clothing. Omar Sakr, along with his brothers Michael and Dustin found themselves enamored with all things creative and decided to take their unique love for fashion and create a brand based on the simple mantra of “Celebrate the Difference.”
Fashion affords a unique opportunity to be creative, have fun and express an individual style all our own. At Civil Clothing, fashion represents more than just great style, but the freedom to be creative and appreciate all differences. For Omar, Civil is about embracing a community.
Omar and his brothers have only just begun when it comes to creating their community brand of Civil Clothing. The journey has had its challenges and rewards, but with some brotherly support and creative passion, the brand remains focused and more driven to pave their way in the fashion industry and inspire other designers to find their true passion for creating.
Q: How does it feel to be a co-founder of a popular and trending clothing company?
Omar Sakr: It feels amazing! Every day we feel blessed, especially for myself that I can work with my brothers. It is a family business, so being able to have a creative outlet that we can actually make into a profession is more than I could have ever asked for.
Q: How did the partnership come together and how is the dynamic?
OS: I was working in the industry doing a lot of design work for other brands in the action sports and street wear industry in the earlier 2000s. My brothers and I have always been into the elements of what embodies the street wear and fashion brands today—everything from hip hop to breakdancing to certain things like skateboarding and graffiti. We’ve all been heavily apart of that growing up, so it only made sense for us to get together and form the brand. I do the creative design direction, and my brother Michael, who is basically our brand manager, runs the business aspect of everything, and my brother Dustin is our sales manager. Everyone does their part extremely well.
Q: Creating a label can be both exciting and challenging. Did you have expectations going into it?
OS: We always push ourselves to do the best we can. We didn’t have set expectations of where we would be as far as a time frame. Being able to lean on each other was a big help and as far as where we are at today, we feel like we’ve made some really great strides to get to where we are at with branding and development of collections season after season. We feel that we’ve come a long way from where we started, but we also know we have a long way to go.
Q: How does the brand stay current with the trends?
OS: We just try to follow our passion and what we’ve been doing and what we’ve known growing up— taking influences from both our childhood and our young adulthood. And, what we feel can implement our style with the lifestyle we live. We all surf, we are all athletic; we all play sports, and we are all heavily into music, so we take pieces of that and hope people can agree with us and help trend fashion.
Q: How would you define Civil Clothing?
OS: A street wear label with all the elements that pushes that subculture of everything, from sports to graffiti—but I think what sets us apart as a brand is the fact that we are about the “different.” Everyone’s individual attributes come together to build community, which sets a civilization. We just try to push that as hard as we can and let people know that everyone is different in their own way. We support that whether it’s your cultural multiplicities or religion or sexual orientation. This brand includes everybody. It allows everyone to be themselves and who they are.
Q: In three words, how would you describe the brand’s style?
OS: Minimalistic. Athletic. Chic.
Q: What is the one staple piece everyone should have in their closet?
OS: A definite staple piece should always be your black or white tee.
Q: Civil Clothing designs both male and female fashions, but which is easiest to design?
OS: For me personally, being a design director and being a male, it’s a lot easier to design for men. But it’s a lot more fun to design for women. For me, women take more when it comes to fashion. They’re willing to try something new, whereas men are a little more reserved when it comes to trying something a little different. We’re always trying to push something a little different. We always have our staple pieces that are timeless classics that we put our twist on, but we always try to put something new into the mix.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring designers looking to create their own label?
OS: The best advice I can give is to stay true to your original vision, even if the marketplace is going in a certain direction. If you feel strongly about what you’re doing, in time it will come back around. But if you’re doing something that is true to the brand, you can basically carve your own lane, and people will get it. You have to put in the time, and sometimes you have to trade in everything else you’re doing in your life for this one goal. It’s almost like giving up a lot of things that you see other people doing who have the typical 9-5 job—giving up the extra freedom to put in the work because you know you’re building something big, and you know you want to get to a certain point. Like anything, you have to put work into it.
Q: How do you define success in the fashion industry?
OS: Anyone can define success in their own way, but for us, we define success by being able to get our point across. The lifestyle that we live, people are understanding that and like I said, we can make a living off of it. We’re not asking for everything, but if people are out there and they understand what the message of “Celebrate the Difference” is…that is super successful in our eyes.