ZEM

Samira spring-summer 2013 show

For the first interview of this brand new page, I traveled all the way to Rotterdam. As I arrive, I walk through the spaceship-like train station to board a futuristic looking tram. A five-minute walk from the tram stop and I arrive in the Vijverhofstraat, where Samira Algoe is working in her studio. Two years ago, Samira Algoe (27) started “ZEM”, a unique brand in men’s wear. In The Netherlands she already took part in the Amsterdam International Fashion Week and now she is also taking steps outside the borders. For example, she was published in the magazine“Men’s wear: fashion forward designers” from the Spanish publisher Monsa.


Sewing machine 

Samira, an interesting looking girl with black hair and a big pair of glasses, welcomes me in and offers me a cup of tea. As we take place in her studio, the first thing I am curious about is Samira’s background.

On January the 25th of 1986, Samira was born in Amsterdam as a child of Indian-Surinamese parents. At the age of ten, she already started sewing clothes for her younger brothers. Samira’s parents don't work in the fashion industry, but she does think the sewing machine, that belonged to her mother, kind of steered her into that direction. At the age of 16, she starts to realize that she is pretty good at sewing clothes and could make her profession out of it. And so, in 2010, she graduates at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) to set up her brand ZEM, currently based in Rotterdam. “In Amsterdam I feel at home and that’s where I know a lot of people. But I decided to move to Rotterdam, because here I feel anonymous between all the high buildings and I don’t run into people I know, all the time. Therefore I can focus on my work much better.”


ZEM

The name “ZEM” evolved from “Sam”, which is what most friends of Samira use to call her. Also you can make graphic forms out of the letters, as you can see in the brand’s logo. To find her own style, Samira had to create a lot of mood boards during her time at the AMFI. That way she would find herself consequently choosing for minimalism and graphic forms, something that clearly reflects in her designs. ZEM is about the man who is not afraid to show himself and his vulnerability, who looks for a balance between manly and feminine and is moving boundaries in this. Simple, geometrical designs with a daring use of color.


Production 

At the moment, Samira still makes all pieces by herself in her studio in Rotterdam. She does get help from her interns, who come from different schools and different countries, like Spain and Switzerland. They have their share in the designing process and help Samira most by sewing the clothes together. But because of the growth of ZEM, Samira does want to start looking for investors so that she can have the clothes produced. 

Lookbook SS 2013

 

Ballet 

For the spring/summer 2013 collection “Blossom”, Samira chose ballet as a reference point and got her inspiration from the movie “Billy Elliot”. A movie about an Irish boy who was born to be a ballet dancer, but is being hold back by his father and brother, who are two striking mine workers and think that ballet is not for boys. With this inspiration, she started focusing more on the effect movements have on a piece of clothing. It is also very much in line with the common theme of the brand; a man looking for a balance between virility and vulnerability. This collection is more gracious than the previous ones, something I already notice while having a sneak peak in the fresh samples for this new collection in the studio. After chatting with Samira for a while, I say goodbye and leave her in the quiet, anonymous studio, to enable her to focus completely on finishing her collection. Which, as you can imagine, I am very curious about and will be able to admire in Puha Shop soon!

 

Interview: Carmen Kloosterhuis