From a new, loft-like office in Amsterdam's Houthaven district, Daily Paper is changing people's perspective of Africa. The clothing label was founded in 2012 by Abderr Trabsini, Jefferson Osei and Hussein Suleiman – three friends who entered the fashion game with no experience whatsoever. Fast-forward seven years, and the trio has grown their business into an empire with 55 employees, and a soon-to-be-opened store in New York.
But while their label is a tribute to African identities, Abderr's home echoes his love for Japan – it's filled with rare manga and collectible Japanese toys. Here, the co-founder and creative director talks about the brand's amazing trajectory, and creating a zen environment – at home and at work.
I was actually the last one to join Daily Paper. Jeff and I grew up in the same neighbourhood [Osdorp], and he invited me to a party where I met Hussein. After that, I joined their blog and we became good friends. Secondly, I always dreamed of becoming a pilot because of the travelling. I'm so grateful we get to travel a lot these days – the only downside is that I can't keep many plants. And thirdly, I'm an incense connoisseur. I love sweet rain because it matches the Dutch weather.
My mornings are zen. I light incense, respond to emails, get in the right headspace. And I play some music [listen to Abderr's playlist here]. I try to give everything my full attention, which links back to my fascination with Japan – everything's so neat there.
What makes your home 'Abderr'?
I love Japanese interiors. The fact that they're characterised by warm colours makes me feel right at home. That's also why I'm drawn to wooden furniture. And the walls in my living room are all white, which makes the space feel less claustrophobic. I travel a lot but my home is always tidy, because a messy space is distracting. I'm the same with my luggage – I don't like it when it explodes. I want to have enough space in case I buy something. So rather than folding and stuffing my suitcase, I use the military roll.
I have a lot of records on my shelves. Hip-hop and classical music, but also jazz – Patrick Forge makes the greatest mixtapes. I've also got this record from Mort Garson, called 'Plantasia'. It's music for plants. It's a very old record but it got re-released recently. And specific things like my BAPE sneakers from when Pharrell's 'In My Mind' album was released in 2006. Those are so valuable to me. I'd never wear them – they're like furniture.
It's like Skepta tweeted: 'Leave the house only if necessary, complete the mission and get back in the house.' That's me. I'd love to build a house in Morocco and dig in the ground as deep as possible to create a bat cave. I'd fill it with everything I like. A space for my inner geek, where I can read Japanese manga, wear a kimono and water my plants. It's important to invest in accessories and plants because they complement a space so well.
Our company's a reflection of the multicultural city we grew up in. I remember the Dutch government saying that the multicultural environment is a failure, but I disagree. If they visited our office, they would see that there's strength in connecting people from different ethnicities and religions. People are always comfortable here, because we respect each other.
It feels good. I can give [young people] the advice that I wasn't given back in the day, and make sure that they're always two steps ahead. It's part of African culture – sharing and caring. You're always welcome in my home. I can't cook, but you're welcome to gain my knowledge!
We were surprised because we were up against bigger brands that have existed for years. I think our budgets were the lowest, but we still won. That shows that it doesn't really matter how much money you invest – it's all about translating your vision. We even try to translate the brand's aesthetic into our office space. Our three meeting rooms have visual themes that tie back to the roots of one of the founders: Morocco, Ghana and Somalia.
Our loft has a chill area, ping pong table, PlayStation and enough seats for everyone to have lunch together. It's all about creating social elements like that because it helps different departments interact with each other – whether they're from sales, design or production. It makes people feel comfortable and less afraid to ask for feedback and discuss ideas. Which is important because we're all on the same mission, after all.
Article written by: Gwen Gassler
Photography by: Jonas Holthaus | Art direction by: Laura Cumming