Oh you gotta love it, oh you gotta!
Achraf Ait Bouzalim is one of the most inspiring fashion personalities in Germany. He is a designer and his streetwear brand is one of the hottest in the country. Unboxings, discussions in fashion communities and one “sold out” after the other indicate what everyone assumes – “6PM” is in the hype. It only takes minutes for the collections to sell out. “6PM” is at the start and so is the creative force behind it. Achraf is only in his mid-twenties and started his venture five years ago. Back then it was about a vision, his vision of fashion and the desire to be able to wear what meets his needs… With everything he wants in a piece of clothing – fit, colours, prints and texture. Especially the fit counts here – what can make the most expensive part a flop is at “6PM” on point.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation, we were not able to meet Achraf in person, but talked on the phone. The designer and managing director of 6PM sounds very friendly and positive without being emotional. He is factual and professional, but shows appreciation for his counterpart. He replies very firmly and is clear about what he is saying and where “6PM” is going. The brand should have an impact on an international level. Germany is simply too small for Achraf's plans and his vision of an internationally relevant brand.
He founded his brand strictly because of the cause. It was his dream to produce clothes that are exactly how he wanted to wear them and that corresponded to his expression.
Achraf does not have the creative lead at 6PM for nothing, but because it is about his understanding of style, quality and comfort.
Tell us your story. How and where did you grow up and what is your environment like? Did you inherit your creative streak?
I was born on September 2nd, 1995 in the banking metropolis of Frankfurt and also grew up there. My youth was devoted to sport; I was a passionate soccer player. My parents' house was more technical, which is why I'm probably the most creative of us. My Moroccan parents are originally from Casablanca. They are joint franchisees, so I grew up as part of a family business. This is probably another reason why I studied business administration at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences after completing my technical qualification.
In the HipHop.de interview you tell that you started 6PM during your studies. When did you start designing and where did the idea come from?
I have always been very fashion conscious and also interested in fashion. I've been ridiculed a lot for wearing certain things before they became mainstream. People often didn't understand my way of dressing (you can hear Achraf laughing) . I started “6PM” in 2016 because I wanted to make pieces that exactly meet my expectations and I didn't want to compromise anymore.
Tell us where your talent for styling and fashion comes from.
I was interested in and enthusiastic about fashion from a very early age. Fashion has so many facets and allows you to express yourself. Fashion can express what words sometimes cannot.
You signed an investment deal in 2019 that could take “6PM” to the next level. When did you realize how great the potential of the brand is? Did you expect such a development?
Nobody could have expected such a development. I knew that we could inspire people and have a very good product; It was not foreseeable that we are one of the leading streetwear brands in Germany today. I started 6PM with a dream of making clothes that fit me best. We meet the zeitgeist with our pieces and many seem to share the expectations of a piece of clothing.
What happened after your investor got involved?
We could use more resources. We recently received a purchase offer of well over 10 million euros for our brand. Nevertheless, with “6PM” we still see ourselves at the very beginning. We focus on our customers and building our brand. Our vision is the focus.
What role do you play now in “6PM”? Where is your focus in the company and what does a normal day at Achraf look like?
I myself determine the creative orientation of the brand. Of course, this includes the collections, but also which film is being shown and the appearance of “6PM” – everything that defines us. In normal everyday work, this means many creative meetings, telephone conferences and coordination with producers.
How has 6PM changed your life? You've been around for almost half a decade now.
On the one hand, I was able to turn my hobby into a job. It used to be the lecture hall, today there are production facilities, fashion shows and the desk. We also create jobs, train young people and give photographers and creatives a platform to grow with us. I am aware of this great responsibility every day.
How would you describe 6PM?
We offer incredible quality at an unbeatable price. My personal demand on a piece is our quality standard. If it didn't meet the standards of designer brands, I wouldn't be able to stand behind it. Everything that “6PM” puts out I have to want to wear myself.
Why is the brand actually called “6PM”? Where does the name come from?
I wanted a short, catchy name that anyone could remember and pronounce. In the end it was Drake who inspired me with his song “6PM In New York”.
What is your vision for 6PM? Where do you see the brand in the future?
I work every day to develop 6PM into one of the leading streetwear brands. I want to create something sustainable, inspire people and set trends. We are still at the very beginning and have what it takes to be a brand with an international impact.
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Interview by: Piera Montenereo