Speaking Truth with Fashion
“There are pros and cons of being a designer in a city like Aarhus,” says Amir Hassan, the Denmark-born founder of ready-to-wear label Twelvepieces.
A university town that juts from the east of Denmark’s mainland, Aarhus attracts over a million visitors each year to its museums, Michelin-starred restaurants (there are three) and architecture that dates back to the 1500s.
“The benefit is that you’re quickly noticed if you’re doing something unique,” Amir explains. “The downside is that Danish society takes a long time to accept a new concept.”
In this coastal city—Denmark’s second largest—Amir’s work is conspicuous. Past collections feature text that marches across t-shirts and down trouser legs, the words for “freedom,” “justice” and “Cairo” formed in Arabic script. They are a reference to Amir’s Egyptian heritage and the uprisings collectively known as the Arab Spring, displayed as discreetly as a highway billboard.
“Honestly, it was hard in the beginning to spread the word about freedom using Arabic calligraphy,” Amir says, “especially in a time where the focus is on immigrants and their role in society.”
Many of Denmark’s recent immigrants have settled in Aarhus, and any community can be slow to embrace cultural change—if it ever does.
But the designer, whose parents emigrated to Denmark in the early 1970s, remains resolute. His father painted and told stories of Egypt in shades of sienna and ochre, conjuring his homeland on canvas. One painting of veiled women peddling fruit hangs prominently in the Twelvepieces studio as a tribute to the man Amir calls his best friend and inspiration. When his father passed away, Amir internalised his vision.
“I knew at that moment I had to be independent, but I’m trying to keep his spirit alive my own way,” he explains. “I’m creating my own stories, the way he did.”
Words MACKENZIE LEWIS KASSAB (Kinfolk)
Photos MIKKEL VÖLCKER