The male feminist behind YOOX x Souvf’s International Women’s Day collaboration

March 1, 2019

This International Women’s Day, YOOX is celebrating with a collection of t-shirts designed by up-and-coming responsible brand, Souvf. The six statement t-shirts are a rallying call to support gender equality and women’s empowerment and the proceeds from their sale will benefit the newly established Souvf Foundation, which has been set out to promote the same values and support human rights. Ahead of 8 March, we sit down with the brand’s founder and creative designer, Soufiane Ahaddach, to discover how the older brother of four sisters came to launch his collection of equality inspiring t-shirts.

Where did the idea of creating your t-shirts and launching your own brand Souvf originate from?

I’ve always been the creative fashion guy, the one who likes to create things. But it actually all started because of a little street girl I met in Morocco, Tangier. I noticed her staring at me. She was only 10 years old, sitting on a white blanket, waiting to be given some money by passengers. I knew that money wouldn’t be the answer to her happiness, so I grabbed my bag and searched for the smallest item I had with me, which was a t-shirt. I leant over, handed her the t-shirt and told her that it was for her, and for nobody else. Her expression changed instantly;it was filled with gratitude, happiness and joy. It made such an impact on me that I will never forget the moment or her beautiful face ever again. I remember thinking “If a simple t-shirt could have such an impact on her, what if I created a t-shirt that stands for joy, empowerment, love, and actually helps people?” 2 years later I launched my first Souvf t-shirt.

You have been known to call yourself a feminist. What role do you believe males play in empowering women?

An important role as well. Whether you’re a male or female I believe we all should stand for equality first. A feminist to me, is simply someone who empowers women and supports them to be whoever they want to be. It’s not anti-men or anti-anything, it simply means you support women, their rights and freedom. If you take a brief look through our history, I believe all us men owe it to women to stand for women’s empowerment.

This International Women’s Day you are teaming with YOOX, introducing Souvf to a global audience. Tell us more about the partnership, and what you hope to gain from it? 

First of all, I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity to partner up with YOOX. We’ve teamed up to present a capsule collection celebrating Women’s Day and all women around the world. The collection consists of six t-shirts, each with a unique female-centric message spread across the front, to support and inspire women and girls. Via this partnership I hope my t-shirts and brand will inspire many people no matter what gender they identify as. Alone you may start a spark, but together we’ll move mountains.

Proceeds of the collection will be donated to charities around the world. Tell us more about these?

In our first 2 years, we donated 10% of our income to charity foundations. Yet, we felt we could do more, and have a bigger impact if we changed our business model. So, in 2019, we launched our own foundation, the Souvf foundation. Our foundation is entirely funded through Souvf, with proceeds from every purchased t-shirt supporting its work. Its purpose, just like our brand’s, is to promote feminist ideals, empower gender equality, and achieve and protect equal rights. During 2019 the foundation will launch a series of programmes and standards to ensure effective implementation of our vision, and truly generate benefits for women and girls worldwide. Right now, we’re also setting up campaigns in collaboration with powerful voices from the fashion? community, to stand in solidarity with women, and create a visible and united force for gender equality. We’re a fashion brand, that wants to create change in the world, and in order to do that, we knew we had to take on the reponsibility ourselves, and start our own foundation.

You name fashion leaders like Rei Kawakubo and Federico Marchetti, our CEO & Chairman, amongst your inspirations. Why did you choose fashion as your method to empower women?

Like I mentioned before, it all started with a little girl who inspired me to create tees that say and do something. But, I’ve always been into fashion, even in school, from a young age, I started drawing sketches of dresses, shoes, or whatever in my textbook. I love creating things, making my imagination become visible. Fashion was always something I have always understood, and enjoyed doing. So for me, personally, choosing fashion as a tool to empower women, is simply me using my gift to empower others. At the end of the day it’s all about using whatever your talent or gift is to make a difference in the world.

When you launched Souvf in 2016, the women’s empowerment dialogue was in a different place. What is the most important progress that’s been made to date?

Society has taken it more seriously now, the time of excuses is over. Look how many women have stood up against injustice since 2016, and said enough is enough! The Women’s March, the Me Too movement, just to name a few. We are far from close, but we are getting there day by day. The future definitely looks brighter than ever. And I am more than happy to be a part of that change through my t-shirts and brand Souvf.  

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