Interview: Mohammed Rabi Is The Designer Breathing New Life Into The Classic Leather Jacket

BY Delara Zand / Jun 18 2019 / 18:07 PM

He's the brains behind the effortlessly cool statement jackets we all need in our wardrobe ASAP

Interview: Mohammed Rabi Is The Designer Breathing New Life Into The Classic Leather Jacket
The Letter

Ah, the good old leather jacket. We've all got one hanging in our wardrobe - always have, always will. But with their fresh take on the timeless classic, Dubai-based brand The Letter is ensuring we don't just have to settle for basic black; they've got a silhouette and design for every personality. Ahead, we hear from founder Mohammed Rabi about his earliest fashion memories, the place that inspired him to start his business and the films he references in his designs. 

Courtesy of The Letter

Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: Where did your love for fashion begin?

Mohammed Rabi: The love started with the wardrobes in film and music, which continue to be my source of inspiration. Growing up in the '80s and '90s in Dubai, exposure to pop culture was limited. I had to introduce myself to the classic films and artists. Perhaps at the time it wasn't considered suitable for a young boy to be listening to explicit songs, but when I look at how much influence it's had on my designs today, I remind myself not to have any regrets. 

Movies with characters considered iconic today are what fascinate me most. Christian Slater's wardrobe in True Romance, or that of Edward Furlong in Terminator 2, are very much back in fashion. I liked that style back then and still like it today.

Courtesy of The Letter

HBA: What pushed you to start your own brand?

MR: I lived in San Francisco for five years. For a film junkie like myself, it was a dream come true to be living in California. I had the opportunity to make new friends, live like a local and attend music concerts at an array of different venues. I realized that the fashion, the way of communicating and the overall lifestyle were not dissimilar to what I'd seen in American cinema during my adolescence. I was mindblown. The very first item I purchased on the very first day after I moved there was a leather jacket and the desire to keep collecting them became an obsession that lasted the whole five-year period. There was no doubt that when I started a brand, the leather jacket would be the centrepiece. My life in California made me want to start the The Letter, which is a homage to the state...or even a thank you Letter for inspiring a guy to follow his dreams. 

Courtesy of The Letter

HBA: Why did you start working with leather?

MR: It was a wardrobe staple and absolute must-have for many of the locals in California. My love of the state combined with my love for the cinema and the edge it gives the wearer meant that making a career out of the material was a no-brainer. 

HBA: How has the leather jacket become such an iconic wardrobe staple?

MR: If only I had the opportunity to ask Marlon Brando this question! The leather jacket is a piece that can make the person who doesn’t think they're cool look, well, cool, and someone that knows they're cool look so much cooler. It’s a piece that can be worn on a daily basis with your favourite pair of jeans and T-shirt, or with a cocktail dress on a fancy night out.

Courtesy of The Letter

HBA: Do you view what you create as art?

MR: Absolutely - we need to keep reminding ourselves that fashion is part of fine art. I graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco: an all-arts school. Every major at the university involved the arts. We were taught to eat, sleep and breathe art. One of the biggest departments at the school was Fashion Design and Merchandising. My jackets are all hand-stitched and hand-painted by very talented individuals whom I'm incredibly lucky to be working with.

Mohammed Rabi

HBA: What advice would you give to hopeful young designers?

MR: It’s not easy. It will never be easy. Keep your focus on what you once thought could not be set in stone. Let there be an ounce of progress everyday, even if it’s not bringing in the income you're hoping for. If you trust the journey, be patient and continue to put in the hard work, the finish line will seem closer. Everyone has a different strategy to grow their business - trust yours. Embrace the failures and enjoy the successes. Remain kind and humble; if others around you are succeeding before you, be happy for them. Our intentions and the energy we put out into this world determine whether we will succeed or fail. Make sure the energy you're giving out is positive.