Throughout the '80s and '90s, bootleg pioneers like Harlem’s Dapper Dan taught us how iconic a logo can be — and in the age of Instagram, designers like 22-year-old Imran Moosvi are keeping that streetwear tradition alive.
Known widely for his use of Gucci and Louis Vuitton fabrics, Moosvi has amassed a big following as a bootlegger over the last year. His first piece, a Fred Perry polo with the Supreme logo, was something he made shortly after graduating from college for his own wear — and it got him noticed. “I wanted to make something that no one had, and then it became this thing that was — liberating,” he said over the phone in New York. "And that’s the mindset I use in everything I make — I’d never make something I wouldn’t personally wear myself."
Since then, he’s grown to customize pieces for artists like YG, Lil Yachty, and Tyga, often in the form of Air Force One sneakers with faux-designer fabric panels. The FADER spoke with Moosvi about his streetwear influences, the power of reclaiming brands, and the global appeal of bootleg.
Tell me a bit about your upbringing, and how you made it out to New York City?
I was born and raised in New Jersey, by the shore — like you know the show Jersey Shore? Like fifteen minutes away from where that was filmed, it’s a suburb by the beach by the boardwalk. I went to college in Michigan and graduated last year, and moved to New York without a real plan. I studied film, and I still love making videos and films on the side, but I always knew I didn’t want to pursue a career in that — I wanted to make clothes, which I started doing about a year ago. I met people in New York and met my best friends, and things just kind of evolved from there.
What peaked your first interest in fashion and making clothing?
Definitely basketball — when I was 6 or 7 years old, I became obsessed with basketball. This was like the 2002 era, where you had Jason Kidd and Allen Iverson, who wore Jordans off the court and awesome clothes. That’s how I became obsessed with sneakers and collecting jerseys. I was wearing a lot of Sean Jean, Ecko, Rocawear, crazy shit like that. And of course music.
How does it feel to have the power to make those pieces you want? When I think of brands like Supreme, I think of how sought after and inaccessible they are.
That's exactly it—inaccessible. It’s cool, like before I made that polo, I was seeing fake Supreme all the time, but never seeing “customized Supreme” things. I wanted to make something that no one had, and then it became this thing that was — liberating, if it’s the right word, it feels cool to fuck with a big company and do what you want, and not caring about any repercussions.
A lot of your pieces work with designer fabrics, like putting panels on sneakers, jeans, etc. What drew you to working with those?
The appeal is branding, when they see the Gucci or Louis monogram it catches their attention. I made my first Gucci [Air] Forces for myself — and people have been doing this for ever, it’s not like I’m the first one. I’ve always been into twisting these big patterns and brands and making them into my own.
It reminds me a bit of Harlem’s Dapper Dan, and '80s and '90s street fashion. Why do you think this is a trend that’s prevailed so much? Bootlegging is also a huge thing around the world, and I wanted to know if you have any experience interacting with that.
Yeah! My parents are Indian and Iranian-Indian, and you see that in a lot of countries. I was just in Iraq with my mom, and some of the recent stuff you see on my Instagram was made using fabrics I found there. It’s so cool walking around and seeing so much crazy bootleg shit everywhere. A lot of the fabric I get is bootleg, and I get it anywhere and everywhere I can. I got a lot of stuff in Iraq, I went to Turkey and bought scarves and bags from this big bazaar, and cut up all the fabric. I find a lot of my fabric in random places — but if anyone wants to look and find it, it’s easy to find.
How’d you expand into running this business out of Instagram, and eventually build a clientele?
I was never super worried about followers, and I just always wanted to make cool stuff and people just fucked with it. I don’t sell to anyone who DM’s me, I basically have a few clients who place orders.
I noticed you make baby clothes and put them on dolls too, what inspired that?
It was really random — I was in a store one day and saw a baby toy, and just wanted to buy it because it was so funny. I didn't have a plan to make anything, and then it came from that. A week from that I was like, Damn, I should make it an outfit, and the “Gucci Baby” became this crazy thing that it is now.