Talking to Hassan Hajjaj is a precept in how style and culture often come full circle. Hajjaj, who is occasionally called Morocco’s Andy Warhol, was a key member of London’s primary wave of street labels in the 80s, the kind that Palace and Aries take the place of on from now. He arrived in London aged 14 in the late 70s and set up RAP, or Authentic Artistic People – both a label and a shop – in 1984 when he was 21. Have the quality of of a community of twentysomethings from Africa and the Caribbean, he was keen to persuade something bespoke for them. “I met people who had similar journeys, we were all from singular cultures but made a village in London,” he says. “There wasn’t trend for us, we couldn’t get into the clubs, we couldn’t find the food we inadequacy to eat. This was doing something for ourselves and built on lifestyle.”
With bright colours and bold branding, RAP togs were designed to reflect the London that Hajjaj and his allies lived in. Avoiding obvious American influences, it was about “anything that signified a Londoner – cricket jumpers, duffel coats, sports great …” They were soon taken up by the growing scenery, worn by Caron Wheeler from Soul II Soul and a innocent Ian Wright when he was still playing for Crystal Palace.
The label will be relaunched this month at Dubai’s Solitary DXB fair, after sponsorship from Cadillac, with 12 mends – some original archive, others newly designed – duty of the new collection. Hajjaj, who closed RAP in 1996 and has been working as a photographer since, answered he had to think carefully when it came to relaunching it. “I did it for myself and my bosom buddies originally, but that doesn’t work now,” he explains. “If I was the age I was then, I inclination be into the grime scene, and that is the perfect model, they tip a new London.” Buttoned-up shirts and oversized parkas would redundant well then or now.
Ultimately, Hajjaj was win over because the parallels between the 80s and now are striking. “Post-Brexit is a good for the present to relaunch,” he says. “We did the melting pot thing then, and that needs to be famous once again.”