“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, Losing, Cheating, and Mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.”
So reads one graphic tee from the Profound Aesthetic Spring Summer 2016 collection. The line could also be the mantra for Faraz Zaidi, the creator and designer of the label that he started six years ago, with two dozen graphic tees that he’d negotiated to producewith a guy found on the internet. “I googled local screen printers,” says Zaidi. “His minimum production was a thousand, but I haggled him so much, he was willing to give us a shot.”
It proved to be a gamble that ultimately worked in Zaidi’s favor, given a lot of personal moxie, family investment, and a millennial’s enthusiasm for social media. He’d also consulted YouTube to create an online store. Then, in what could be dubbed a net tease, he cobbled together mock-ups for products that didn’t exist, showcased them online, gaged consumer interest, and ultimately fulfilled orders in real-time.
Profound Aesthetic’s upscale streetwear collection has expanded from the initial tees – often depicting contrasting images of good versus evil and animal symbols – to architectural hoodies and leather jackets with varied pockets; neutral trench coats that are classic with a twist; skull caps and print baseball caps; scarves, gloves, and a line of eyeglasses for Urban Outfitters. Materials have included waxed cottons, nylons, French terry, genuine wool and leather.
The label revolves around distinct themes: “Nature, Americana, Romanticism, and Anarchy.” Such range seems to be as eclectic as its founder, reflecting the enthusiasm of a young man (recently turned 30) who was born in Pakistan, came to the States as a toddler, and was raised on a farm about a half hour outside of the Big Apple. His entire family helped him start the business, with two older brothers in construction providing the initial funding and a big sister who oversees “the business side.”
“I was always into style as a form of expression,” says the designer, citing his early influences as, “Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, chinos, polos, Ivy League schools like Princeton,” which is why he initially named the line Profound Aesthetic Academy. (The Academy has been since been dropped.)
Was he lampooning the American ideal with the mini-American flag patches on the sides of shirts and jackets, or the bear symbol (ei: Brown University mascot)? “I wouldn’t say poking fun. We’re inspired by it.” Zaidi had graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts and initially studied business and marketing – then falling in love with graphic design – with food science, dinosaur studies, and theater courses in between. His raison d’être then and now is to “experiment.” “Often times, people are boxed into specific things,” says Zaidi, something he doesn’t believe in, even in terms of his clothing being for men or women.
“We started as a menswear brand,” says the designer, but now, he describes it as androgynous. “In fashion, there’s starting to be no evident line. I know men who shop in womenswear for a jacket that fits better. A lot of my female friends can wear oversized Profound Aesthetic jackets.”
Zaidi admits that he’s a bit of a culture fiend, always watching youth and buying trends. He designs collections for all four seasons, often up at 3 am in his studio, listening to everything from rock n’roll to country to hip hop. As is the way these days, he sees celebrities as “influencers,” and has dressed notable stars like Rihanna and Bieber, as well as sportsmen including New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and former Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Dave Robinson.
Such diversity also speaks to the variety of the line’s muses. Singer/designer Kanye West rests at the top of Zaidi’s food chain. “I think he’s incredibly passionate, driven. He does whatever he needs to express his opinion. Kanye’s said ‘I just want to be a five year old child, not limited in expression.'”
It is with a similar level of verve that Zaidi and Profound Aesthetic continue to thrive.