Ala Rasi has a double meaning. A Khaleeji term that literally translates to “on my head”, but when said to someone means the speaker holds the other in high regard. Kuwait based brand Ala Rasi creates accessories inspired by the local identity, environment, and culture in the Gulf. Having launched back in November 2015, we asked Matthew Johnson to tell us a bit more about their journey.
What was the inspiration behind the brand?
I have always loved hats; there are even pictures of me as a newborn wearing hats with my favorite sports teams’ logos on them! I saw a friend wearing an Oakland Raiders hat once, and when I asked him if he was a fan of that team, he said that he just was wearing it because the colors matched his outfit. I thought to myself "there should really be a headwear brand that has designs that we can connect with on a personal level". The rest is history! As for our name, we went through a few names that just didn't fit the aesthetic and feel of the brand. We tried to simplify it as much as possible, though, and sometimes creating a brand name is as easy as describing what your product does, it helps if the name has another important meaning too.
What kind of products do you offer?
We released our Essentials Collection which consists of five snapback hats with locally inspired designs, and have another collection coming very soon.
What’s your design process?
The way we design headwear is pretty complicated. It starts with providing detailed measurements and selecting fabrics, colors, and materials for the caps themselves. There are a lot of factors to be considered when doing this, such as "is this fabric breathable enough for a Khaleeji July?" and "does this snapback adjust easily enough?" Then the featured designs are developed, using live models, pictures, and digital renderings of the objects being depicted. Once these are finalized, we begin to sample. Sometimes samples need to be sent back 3-4 times in order to get them just the way we want. We also put our designs through a screening process where we ask for advisors' opinions on whether the design will be perceived the way we want them to be. Let's just say that when a design can be mistaken for something else, it is quickly sent back to the drawing board! Once final samples are approved, we start bulk production.
What’s the future of your brand?
We've had such great feedback so far, and so many suggestions. We have three more snapback collections currently in pre-production, and are in talks with designers, creators, and artists from the "fireej" for some unbelievably amazing collaborations. We want Ala Rasi to join the countless brands, gifted individuals, and companies emerging from our region that do the important job of representing our culture in a fresh new way, and giving our neighborhoods something to be proud of.