At a time when life seems to be on a standstill as political tension builds around the world, the fashion industry is zooming along. Just ask Takin Aghdashloo, the brains behind the trendy “I Love Tehran” chain. In just four years, the brand which started off as just a hobby has rapidly bloomed into an international hit.
We have all seen the “I Love…” concept printed on t-shirts for popular tourist cities, but when Faryad Magazine found out that one of the most notorious places in the world had a declaration of love t-shirt that was being worn by New York City indie rock bands and guests on popular television shows like CBC’s The Hour, we had to go straight to the source.
The shirts attractiveness has much to do with the simplicity of the logo. On a baby blue backdrop the words “I [heart] Tehran” are positioned in the middle of the clothing. Takin Aghdashloo, the 25 year old busy-body who has been living in Toronto, Canada for the past seven years, had a lot to say on the popularity of his t-shirts. He explains that making a “cool” brand that represents a sense of nationalism shows a different image of Iran- an image that due to talks of war and nuclear weapons has been tainted. Politics aside, Takin’s main focus is on his biggest consumer: the younger generation who in Takin’s words, “look forward rather than to Iran’s history and past for motivation.”
Aside from the shirts international success, it is rapidly gaining a name for itself in the city that is in the forefront of all of this: Tehran. Currently, the only place selling the t-shirts in Iran is the Esteghal Hotel, which used to be the former Sheraton. Takin explains, “It’s kind of hard to sell the t-shirts in Tehran since there are virtually no copyright laws to protect the design… Sadly there are already some stores in Tehran and Dubai that are selling exact replicas of the t-shirts [without permission].”
The successful creation of the t-shirts stands on its own as the only Iranian clothing label that focuses solely on three simple words, but the brand represents a deeper sense of identity. Takin’s motivation stems from a profound sense of love for his native country of Iran. Faryad asked him what it is exactly about the country he loves so much. Takin explains:
“What I love about Iran is that we are amazing people. We have experienced and are experiencing a very tough ideologically-motivated censorship and political oppression to change us from a “forward-looking” worldly nation to a backwards, traditional, and isolated society. With all these restrictions, a single look at Iranian art, cinema, and culture after the revolution can demonstrate that we have a great status in the world still… We have a thriving culture in Iran, especially in Tehran, where many young artists do amazing things with the cruelest restrictions against their art.”