In The Studio With Imran Moosvi: Mastering The Art of The Bootleg
So far in 2018: Kylie Jenner had a baby, Trump still resides in the White House, and ICYMI, monogram print is officially back on trend. The logomania craze from the ‘80s and ‘90s has returned in full force, and riding at the forefront of this trend is 23-year-old artist and creative Imran Moosvi, AKA @imran_potato.
Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, Moosvi has garnered a huge following on social media with his reputation for mastering the delicate art of the bootleg. From his Louis Vuitton pullover hoodies to his decked out Gucci-monogram Air Force 1s, Moosvi has transformed the idea of “bootleg” from cheap, Chinatown knockoffs into his personal brand of clothing, shoes, and accessories that has some of the biggest names in rap and hip hop dying to get their hands on his custom creations. We had the chance to speak with Moosvi about his booming business strategy, his anime inspirations, and his haters. Read on to check out our interview with the king of bootleg himself.
First and foremost, Moosvi’s designs are about finding and re-discovering the fun in fashion.
“Everything I do is meant to just be fun. Like, at the base of it all,” Moosvi says. “I don’t really like to take myself that seriously. If I’m not having fun doing it, or it doesn’t make someone smile, then it’s just like every other ‘serious’ fashion shit, you know? Which is what I hate. I’m not really ‘fashion’, I don’t try so hard or take myself so seriously, so I just try to do the opposite of that.”
While it might be easy to just categorize Imran as a designer, he prefers to leave his title a little bit more ambiguous.
“I don’t even know how to sew. I don’t do anything like that myself. I have concepts, and I’ll bring it to people who I know can do better than I can, so why would I do it myself? If I have an idea and I want to see it brought to life, I want it to be brought to life in the best way possible,” he says. “It’ll be my concept, but I’ll get someone else to do it. I use Illustrator and Photoshop a lot, so I’ll do the mock and then send it in. I guess I do graphic design and stuff like that, but I don’t like calling myself a ‘designer’ because I don’t want to offend people who are real designers. I guess I’m a creative, artist, person, human.”
As Imran’s business of bootleg has grown, it’s a given that haters have come in tow, too. But being written off as a copier or having his monogram mediums criticized doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
“People come at me, and say I’m not the first, and I know I’m not. Dapper Dan’s the O.G. But it wasn’t like he was the inspiration behind my work, it was more basketball, cartoons, and One Piece that influenced me. Basketball first, then video games and cartoons, and that’s where everything is derived from, pretty much,” says Moosvi. “It’s a copy, it’s a bootleg. But bootleg stuff is cool to me. If I liked the real stuff, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’d just buy the real stuff that’s in the store. I like to make my own versions of stuff because it’s cooler.”
If I liked the real stuff, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’d just buy the real stuff that’s in the store. I like to make my own versions of stuff because it’s cooler.
While it might have been his custom shoes that put him on the map, Moosvi feels like he’s moved onto bigger and better things. He’s expanded his range into clothing and accessories too, preferring to announce drops of his goods rather than sifting through his blown-up Instagram DMs.
“I don’t really do the shoes anymore, it was sort of an earlier thing. I don’t really do it anymore since so many people do it now,” he says. “I used to take orders through DM’s, but it got too crazy so I stopped. Now I’ll get commission from certain people so I’ll do that, but I’ll also do drops, like the baby dolls. Then I did like clear bags, then socks. I’ll do drops periodically now, so I can make money that way, where I don’t have to do orders through DM—it’s too much.“
With his designs being seen sported by some of rap and hip hop’s biggest superstars like YG and Tyga, Moosvi spoke candidly about how his work gets spread around. Moosvi’s focus is on the creativity and the vision—money isn’t a priority.
“My friend Ray is a photographer, and he’s friends with a bunch of rappers and stuff, and if he’s ever meeting up with anyone of them, he’ll grab some shit and photograph them in it. Other times, they come to me directly for stuff,” he says. “Now I don’t really like having to charge people, it’s weird doing that. I’ll sometimes try to reach out to artists that I really like, like Yung Lean last fashion week. It was so cool because he’s my favorite rapper, and he said he’d seen my Instagram before, and that was crazy to me because I was in college listening to his stuff as a fan. That was really cool. It’s just random, people hit me up, and if I fuck with them, I’ll hook them up with something.”
While Moosvi has always been conscious and aware of happenings in the fashion world, he stressed that he prefers to work when he feels most inspired, rather than according to the restrictive fashion calendar.
“I feel like I’m still not really taken seriously, in that world. There’s people a part of that world who reach out to me and stuff, but there’s never been anything concrete. I’m not going to beg to get my foot in the door, I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing. Making cool stuff and working on my next drop,” Imran says.
But, Moosvi’s not totally opposed to dipping his toes into the realm of fashion shows and traditional collections either.
“if I was given the chance—I think I could kill it. But like, using the same philosophy that I’ve always used. I would just do it on a bigger scale. I wouldn’t change the mindset of having fun with it, I wouldn’t try to take it too seriously. If I had a runway or show, I’d want to do it in a way that nobody’s ever done it before, not just a classic walk up-and-down. I feel like I could make it cool,” he says.
I’m not going to beg to get my foot in the door, I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing.
In terms of exciting projects for the rest of 2018, Moosvi told us to keep our eyes peeled.
“I can’t really talk too specifically, but the way I dropped the socks, there will be more stuff coming like that that everyone can buy. I’m going to try to keep stuff affordable and stuff like that,” he says. “It’d be cool to work with the NBA, that’d be amazing. That’s a dream. I’m basketball obsessed, so anything they’d ask me to do, I’d be like ‘hell yeah’. I’m also trying to work on my first gallery show, which was kind of supposed to be for this fashion week, but the concept of it was too much with too little time to do it. Just trying to keep making cool shit. For kids.”
Stay tuned for more from inside the studios of our favorite emerging designers.