words Martin Rybak
photography Viktor Sloth
Amir Hassan is the 24-year-old founder and designer behind the young high-street brand, Twelvepieces, aiming for cool street style looks built upon storytelling and new takes on iconic silhouettes, combined with a minimalistic approach. Amir, who was born and raised in Aarhus in Denmark and whose parents came from Egypt to Denmark as immigrants in the early 70’s, uses his family history as a source of inspiration to come up with collections that not only look cool and ultra-fashionable but are making a strong political and social statement at the same time.
The market for streetwear brands seems quite oversaturated, but Twelvepieces incorporates new ideas that make you want to have a second and a third look at this brand.
All their collections are highly limited. The current collection “The Spring” only comprises 12 pieces of each style, all numbered like any other piece of printed art you would buy. The storytelling aspect of the brand makes this brand stand out once more from other street-style brands and every detail of the current collection is chosen in a way to correlate with a political and social statement.
“We are always trying to tell a story, not only through our prints and calligraphy, but also through the colours and fit of our pieces.”
The current collection “The Spring” is a homage to self-expression and freedom, two values that are important for the makers behind Twelvepieces and important for the story they want to tell with the help of the collection. Self-expression and freedom have always been important values used in fashion, expressed through a variety of ways, such as women’s skirts becoming shorter or wearing a specific statement directly on a t-shirt. Fashion always had and still has the power to express strong opinions and reach a wide audience. Twelvepieces plays intelligently with this power and gives their products an interesting twist. The brand goes beyond the banal and substance lacking “I’m a feminist” t-shirts sold by fast fashion retailers all over the world. Twelvepieces and the socio-political issues they address underline their desire and willingness to paint an honest picture of real past and current problems society is facing. The inspiration behind “The Spring” collection comes from the aftermath of the Arabic spring, which started in Egypt in 2011.
“During the Arabic spring, the youth was a flower that grew from concrete – a voice of freedom you could hear, where nobody thought it was possible. Hopefully, my clothes can help inspire others to dare to dream the impossible and help them feel confident, and not alone in their fight towards freedom. I think my references are true and genuine to the self awareness and rebel thoughts that grew within the youth all over the Middle East during the Arabic Spring. The fact that the Egyptian government declared me a traitor only shows the fight is far from over.”
The brand proved how powerful fashion can be in terms of political and social statements when Danish TV-host, Peter Falktoft, was stopped at the airport in Tel Aviv wearing the Twelvepieces “Freedom Coat” that had “Freedom” written on it in Arabic with a graphic print of a masked woman. The case was later discussed all over the Danish media and helped to raise awareness about the issues illustrated by the “The Spring” collection by Twelvepieces.
Fashion always was and still is a good tool for such statements, as it often speaks for itself. One need not debate a specific political or social view. More often, it is about specific values and positive attributes, such as “freedom” or “self-expression” that a designer and a brand promote, instead of a complex opinion about a specific current or past issue. It helps to raise awareness and make people think about the more complex issues society is facing.
“I want to underline that people are still fighting for basic human rights in the middle east and the people cannot be compared to their government. Though I do not want to promote any specific political stand, my message with The Spring is clear: Stand up for your rights! I try to stay out of the ideological and social debate and let my clothes speak for themselves. I am not trying to tell people what is right or wrong. I am trying to inspire people to stand up for what they believe in.'' Amir already has plans for his next collection, called “Roots”, and once more, he uses his origins as a source of inspiration. It will contain aspects of the current spring collection, such as the Arabic calligraphy of words like “Freedom” and “Brotherhood” but represent a more peaceful and beautiful side of Egypt. The designer was especially inspired by his childhood when he was visiting his family for two months every year in Egypt until the revolution started in 2011.
“Though the country has been suffering from various dictators and corrupt politicians for years, I think it is important to stay positive and showcase Egypt and our culture on a larger scale than just my 23 years in this world. For me, the pyramids, camelbacks, and hieroglyphs are among the things I find beautiful and inspiring. Not only do they represent a time when Egypt was a frontier for what would be a modern society, but it also helps me visualise the culture and tell the story about Egypt and my roots.”
You can see Twelvepieces' entire Lookbook on www.twelvepieces.dk!