The rich, powerful and stylish – both men and women – have been flocking to Haj Designs (http://www.hajdesigns.com) ever since he came to the United States in 1987.
Born in Niger, raised in Senegal and Paris, Elhadji Gueye – better known as Haj — is a third generation designer and tailor. He trained under the strict guidance of his father and grandfather, both of whom designed for French and West African government officials as well as World War II troops.
Haj has a straight-forward philosophy: “People should not try to fit into fashion; fashion should do everything it can to fit people.”
He selects the best possible fabrics, makes every piece by hand, and focuses on the fit. It takes two full days of work to hand-tailor a man’s jacket. But after a client has been “Haj-ed up,” he or she can never go back to buying clothes “off the rack.”
Haj visited Africa.com’s offices during Fashion Week in New York City and assessed the trends for 2010-2011.
For men, the colors to look for in business clothes are navy and charcoal gray. Shadow stripes are important and for sport coats, choose dark rust.
For women, the colors of the season are dark pastels, dark purple, burgundy, deep navy and deep olive green as well as gunmetal. Leopard and especially zebra prints are in vogue.
Haj is on a mission. With a group of colleagues, he has researched the look of businessmen and women in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States. Americans, they’ve found, are the worst dressed of all.
“An American executive or entrepreneur will spend $100,000 for a car he’ll drive from garage to garage. No one ever sees that car,” Haj said. “In Europe and Africa, a businessman will spend the same amount for his wardrobe and his look gives him a competitive advantage in the board room.”
Perhaps that’s the reason African economies are growing faster than the United States. It’s a theory worth investigating further!