Growing up in Morocco, I came to be a pretty stylish guy. At university, I was known for wearing ties in eccentric colors and dressing in smart suits.
But when I started to travel, I sacrificed “smart” for “practical”, like many of us do.
Unfortunately, there was a consequence to this that I hadn’t expected.
I came to Poland with an open mind and heart, and discovered a new country that I fell in love with. But while I met lots of nice people, I also had some not-so-nice encounters.
Some people would ask me, “Why are you in Poland? Do you sell kebabs?” And they weren’t actually looking for a kebab restaurant….
And don’t get me started on the “terrorist” comments.
If you’ve ever experienced racism, you know how it can make you feel: small and like you’ll never be accepted, no matter how much you want to be. Maybe it’s even made you afraid for your safety.
I tried to push past those negative feelings to understand why this was happening to me. I’m a friendly person, I’m polite and well-educated. And the people of Poland seemed to be friendly, too. So what was going wrong? Was there something that was making me look threatening?
As it often does, my mind turned to fashion. I thought about how I’d stopped wearing smart suits and started wearing slouchy, sloppy clothes. In an ideal world, we should be able to dress however we want. But the sad reality is that the saying “Clothes don’t make the man” isn’t always true. Clothes are usually what people first notice about you, and if what you’re wearing gives an impression that they don’t like, they may not look any further.
I went to a store and got myself a nice, affordable suit that fit well, and started wearing that. Suddenly, things shifted. People went from asking if I sold kebabs or was a terrorist to, “Are you an ambassador’s son?” or even “Are you the prince of Morocco?”
It was astonishing.
Again, in an ideal world, none of this would have been necessary. But the reality that impressions matter didn’t bring me down. Instead, I realized that fashion and style are even more powerful than I’d thought.
Back home in Morocco, I’d loved wearing a good suit, but now I realized that in places where I was seen as a foreigner, that suit could speak for me. It could show people the image I wanted to project: that I’m a kind, educated, interesting person who you don’t have to see as a threat.
A man in sweats might be seen as a suspicious character, someone you don’t want in your town. A man in a suit is respectable. A man in a stylish suit is intriguing.
This lesson has stayed with me and is one of the reasons I founded Meqnes. I want to make style and elegance accessible to everyone. Our accessories combine the traditions of my homeland of Morocco, classic style, and a modern twist that will help you get noticed – in a good way – no matter where you are.
Meqnes is about love and acceptance. No matter where you’re from, what you look like, what you believe, or who you love, we celebrate you and we design our products to inspire confidence and send a message to the world: The person you see has a sense of elegance, appreciates the fine things in life, and is worth getting to know.
Looks shouldn’t be important, but they are. If you ever find yourself in a situation where people are judging you for how you dress, show them your true self through your style.