There’s no doubt the capital city of Canada has gained more swagger and edge since Ottawa based owner, creative designer, and artist, Amir Zargari, created Babes n Gents. Babes n Gents is an Ottawa based brand that draws aspirations from three words: Passion, Inspiration, and Warrior-like Strength (Mental & Physical). BnG was launched July 8, 2013, and on August 1st, 2014, celebrated its one year anniversary. I sat down with the mind behind this brand, Amir Zagari, and we chatted about BnG, life, and his weirdest experience. Read below.
Well, first, introduce yourself a bit to Honestly Annette.
My name is Amir. I’m originally from Iran and I moved to Canada in grade 9. After high school I tried schooling in Waterloo, then I did co-op in Toronto, and then I came back to Ottawa and have been here since. So, I’ve been here [Ottawa] for eight months since Toronto.
How’d You Like Toronto?
Toronto’s great. I’m planning on moving there in a few years, it just has to be right.
What was a weird or awkward situation, you experienced recently?
So, for Canada Day, the first Canada Day I am sober due to working and selling shirts all day until around 11pm. By the time I met up with my boys we decided to go to The Liquor Store. I love it there and have always been going there since I became legal. I was sober but the music was so right and so I went ape shit on the dance floor. They [the guards] thought I was on M. It was horrible because I paid $7 to get in and then I got kicked out. So, basically, the Liquor Store sucked that night.
The name of your company is Babes And Gents, why that name?
I wanted a name that resonated with people before they even knew about it. If I say a brand name like Rook, what do you think of? Nothing comes to mind because it is a new word. I wanted something that people, as soon as they heard it, there’s no pre notion. Then, as soon as I capture their attention, I give them my meaning of a Babe and a Gent.
When were you first introduced to fashion and what drew you towards it?
I come from an art background – visual arts. I’ve been drawing since grade 5. Mostly Disney characters. I loved painting because there were galleries and many perks but, I found around grade 12 that I could not connect with my target group (teens to early adults). Most of them [teens and early adults] would not want to buy paintings. Then in grade 12, the summer of that year, I was a camp counsellor and one of the people there asked me why I did not put my designs on shirts. I realized that any money I had, went towards clothing. I’ve always been into clothes just never thought of making clothes. The spark went off and then I started making plans towards it.
Thus far, what’s been the biggest struggle you’ve faced with Babes and Gents and the growth of your company?
The first six months was so brutal. You have your boys and it’s hard to push through. There were no sales and I had no money to give free shirts to promote it. You have to make money to give the shirts out. I made some bad financial decisions at first as well.
What or who inspires you? Where do you get your ideas and creativity from?
In terms of clothing entrepreneurs there’s Mark Eckō. He started from nothing and he’s just the shit. There’s also Crooks n Castles, Rook, and like Diamond Supply. All these individuals are so inspiring.
Who is your favourite designer?
Rick Owens (the shoes are crazy), Marc Jacobs, Martin Margiela, and Riccardo Tisci. There are too many good ones. My influencers though are Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and Jay Z. Jay Z is more of a business inspiration to me. Kanye really knows what he’s talking about.
Besides fashion, what other hobbies and/or talents do you have?
Currently, my main focus is Babes and Gents. When I wake up, I work.
If you could eat one food choice for a year, what would it be?
Beef and chicken. Like… that’s it. I love meat.
Lorde or Beyoncé?
Definitely Beyoncé. I don’t know much of Lorde besides that one track [Royals].
Kendrick or 2Pac?
Kendrick. I relate more to Kendrick although he is not my favourite rapper. My favourite rapper of all time would have to be Kanye but at the moment I’m listening to Drake and A$ap Rocky.
There are a lot of trends that come and go and most are recycled, but, what is the absolute worst fashion trend for men and for women, in your opinion?
Usually fashion trends are sick. There’s the drop crotch pants, the jersey shirts, and all that stuff. For guys, I guess the socks and sandals. For girls, those varsity fleece jackets that they wore in the winter I suppose.
It’s officially been a year since Babes And Gents began, what have you learned this past year?
I used to be very social and then I became less social due to just continuous working. So, you need to find a balance, or whatever works for you, where you can be social but also be working hard. If you go out every night though, it brings down momentum. Another thing is that you cannot rely on anyone. From what other people are doing for you, or with you, learn from them so you don’t have to rely on them another time.
Your company is already headed off on a great start. What are your aspirations for Babes And Gents, for the future?
To be able to support myself financially and be stable enough to employ people and actually pay them and give back to the community.
Finally, do you have any advice for those thinking of starting their own fashion line and/or just simply following their dreams?
In terms of a fashion line, do your research. As you do your research start building on something on the side as well. Learn as much as possible and be confident. Also, build your fan base. With the aspect of dreams, and this includes the fashion line, just hustle. Do everything. Take advantage of every opportunity. Be on social media. Just send out tweets and stay connected. Let your people know you’re there. Hustle.
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