My name is Anwar Bougroug, and I am the Norwegian-Moroccan founder and creative director of my eponymous fashion, leather and lifestyle label Bougroug. I launched the brand in 2017 and was quickly immersed by the Moroccan community abroad and young Moroccans in the kingdom. Bougroug challenges the progressivism and problems in Morocco and the MENA-region, such as toxic masculinity, female empowerment, diversity and inclusivity, and the brand got a cult following from the Arab world and from the rest of Africa very quickly.
We don’t want to be victims of the fashion calendar so we create drops and limited editions collection that we release when we feel they have a bigger purpose. Our last release was a collection of genderless oversize jackets all handmade using dead-stock/leftover fabrics from bigger productions. Our leather bags are timeless and they remain in the assortment season after season, we might add a color or a new texture but we don’t want to be slaves to the unsustainable fashion cycle as we know it today.
The reason we chose genderless and not unisex is that we don’t believe in a one-gender approach. We have to embrace all genders and it’s up to the wearer to decide how they want to translate our products to their body and identity. We work a lot with oversize menswear shapes to respect as many body types as possible. We try to photograph our collections on various people in order to target a wider audience
We want to represent a new and changing Morocco through impeccable craftsmanship, storytelling and contemporary product. We want to represent diversity in the region and be the leader in the debate of progress for our people. We want to break the boundaries that limit the youth, and loudly and proudly, we tackle issues regarding gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, equality and diversity.
Working in the MENA-region, we try to incorporate more women in our business operations. Due to religious and gender-based limitations, we’ve found a couple of ways of working around these obstacles, for instance allowing the women to work from home full-time if desired. It’s very important for us to that our company represents diversity all the way from the ones that make the products to the unique faces that front our vision and story.
It was quite surreal that while I was dealing with the limitations of the lockdown, I got the email from the editor that confirmed that I was selected as one of the most influential people in Africa. I was so happy and proud that my brand has managed to engage people over such a big demographic and not just Morocco. We’re having a much-needed conversation right now and I am immensely proud that we are leading the discussion and representing positive change. The fact that this was Forbes Africa also added some pressure to what I was doing, because now I feel even more responsible to stand clearly in our beliefs and try to change people’s lives for the better.
Bougroug Youth Mentorship Program started as a way to give back to our community without having ideas about profit behind it. It’s difficult when you deal with high-quality products to give back and be charitable, but a mentorship program was a way we could help young people in the region that perhaps were losing hope due to the pandemic and its consequences. What we do is that we basically offer a selected number of people free career development strategies over Zoom, and until now we have mentored people from Morocco, Norway, South-Africa, Sudan, Austria, Switzerland, France and more. We want to bring young talents from the MENA-region and from the rest of Africa to the surface and give them the confidence and tools to succeed beyond what society tells them they’re capable of.
At first, the goal was to do something to empower and inspire others, but honestly, I think I am the one that was the most inspired during the conversations with these ambitious individuals. People have so many amazing ideas and especially women in our region have such bright and innovative projects that we have consciously support and nurture. I can’t wait for them to share what they have been working on.
For the next edition, which will be this fall, I want to collaborate with external mentors and pair them with our mentees. I hope to build a community of people that, for free, want to help others reach the same or similar goals as they have done themselves. It just takes around one hour and I hope people will sign up for this in order to give that time to someone that can benefit from it. If interested in signing up, click here.
The pandemic has made me realize that the most important and beautiful thing you can do in life is to change someone’s life and from the day I launched the mentorship program, that has become the sole most important goal with my brand.
Cover picute, Photography/Mouad Abillat, Model/Tilia