Once in a while, a new brand comes along that feels familiar yet different. It brings a sense of excitement and new possibilities, while also making the old guard perk up and take notice. That’s exactly what Charaf Tajer has done with his new label Casablanca. Founded in Paris just over two years ago, it offers a fusion of luxe and leisurewear that manages to conjure an après-sport aesthetic evoking the clay courts of Roland Garros and the sun-bathed terracotta of North Africa.
Tajer – who cut his teeth as the cofounder of Pigalle and as a consultant for Virgil Abloh – conceived Casablanca as an homage to his dual French and Moroccan heritage and says the brand’s easy breezy, swagger-laced collections offer a getaway feel with an original mindset. Remarkably, his vision has managed to resonate both commercially and critically, with Tajer even making it to the final eight of this year’s highly acclaimed LVMH Fashion Prize (before the impact of Covid-19 meant that the prize had to be shared).
“I have been really pleasantly surprised by how well people have reacted to Casablanca,” says the 35-year-old. “I think it’s the fusion that makes Casablanca so interesting to people. Classic prints and t-shirts, and then a jersey next to tailoring. It’s very much modern and with the time, but there’s a past and a future.”
If celebrity endorsement is anything to go by then Casablanca is clearly on the right path. Rappers Gunna and Swae Lee have both walked the label’s runway, while musicians Dev Hynes and Skepta, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond and basketball player Serge Ibaka were all spotted front row at the SS20 show in the Musée de Montmartre. Yet, it was the brand’s first design partnership, with New Balance that garnered the approval of one the world’s most famous influencers: Kendall Jenner, who was spotted wearing her sneakers about town in LA. Still, it’s Casablanca’s high-quality proprietary cotton tracksuits that Tajer says will remain the label’s classic piece. Conceived as a uniform, the Casablanca tracksuit epitomises, as he puts it, “how to be elegant with a simple outfit.”