Breaking Norms: How Joseph Achajian's Lebanon-Based Menswear Brand Maison Du Mec Is Carving A Niche Of Its Own

"Our overriding compulsion at Maison du Mec is to exist as a comprehensive reference, rather than a mere fashion brand concerned with seasonal trends and ephemeral fads."

learn more about Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

By Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Maison du Mec
Joseph Achajian, founder, Maison du Mec

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"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." These words from legendary Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace are perfectly mirrored in the ideologies that Joseph Achajian has used to create his Lebanon-based menswear brand, Maison du Mec.

After all, what Achaijan seeks to create with his label is permanence and longevity in an industry that thrives on short-lived popularity. "Maison du Mec has always had more than simply fashion engrained in its DNA," Achajian explains. "As a former flamboyant kid myself, I came to terms with the fact that true value lies in design that transcends time and space; lasting gestures, rather than short-lived instant gratifications, that make for a true sustainability of style. Our overriding compulsion at Maison du Mec, therefore, is to exist as a comprehensive reference, rather than a mere fashion brand concerned with seasonal trends and ephemeral fads. Thus far, we have explored different avenues from clothing -both casual and evening wear- to leather goods, footwear, and, most recently, jewelry."

Launched in 2018, Maison du Mec (French for "House of Men") is a Lebanon-based fashion brand that is inspired by East Asian aesthetics and minimalist designs. Its offerings range from apparel such as suits, cardigans, and pants, to leather goods such as bags, passport holders, and wallets. But if there is an aspect of the brand that Achajian is especially proud of and strongly advocates for, it lies in the fact that Maison du Mec's ready-to-wear clothing line doesn't necessarily conform to the overtly masculine traits that are often characteristic of contemporary men's fashion. "I have always thought of fashion as the ultimate oxymoron," he says. "When the most creative forms of self-expression are categorized, particularly by gender, it marrs the very essence of what we stand for. With new voices emerging, we believe in the liberty of choice in how our designs are worn, and the fluidity of those who wear them."

Related: UAE-Based Winifred Mills Is Bringing West African-Inspired Fashion That Caters To Diverse Female Shapes

Source: Maison du Mec

It's with this mindset that the Maison du Mec design, production, and retail teams have thus adopted a "practical chic" ethos to form the essence of its brand. "It is reflected in every facet of our designs/pieces, and this approach is derived from our firm belief that fashion is not just about looking a certain way, but being a certain way," Achaijan says. "It's about consciously leading a certain lifestyle. The only limitation to enjoying our pieces is the limitation of creative translation in utilization of the pieces." Achajian's avant-garde approach to fashion is perhaps a reflection, and even a continuation, of his own unconventional journey into the industry. Having gained a Master's in niology, Achajian was well on his way to becoming a medical doctor at one point until his true passion beckoned him. "Even while pursuing studies in biology, with an understanding that I would one day pursue a career in medicine, I could not ignore a visceral call to create," the founder says. "With that, I committed to living my dreams, rather than just conceiving them everyday." It was this realization that postulated what would eventually become Maison du Mec's tagline: New Dreams Every Day. "It is a dogmatic tagline to remind ourselves and our supporters to keep on dreaming," Achaijan explains.

Following a shift in careers, Achaijan, who had no formal education in fashion, had to learn the tricks of the trade while on the job- but the designer didn't have to look too far for inspiration and guidance. "I grew up in a household of third generation tailors and factory owners, and my evolution into design was an organic one," he says. "My grandfather used to be a men's suit tailor, my aunts were haute couture seamstresses, my mom's aunt had a factory for kids clothing, and my great grandmother used to be a corset/spanks tailor since the 1920s. Being part of that lineage, combined with around 17 years of retail experience, engulfed me in every element of the design process, with a hands-on approach that has allowed me to manage the various steps needed to render an abstract idea into a desirable product."

Source: Maison du Mec

Thus armed with fashion knowledge passed down through generations, Achaijan was able to craft his own personal vision for Maison du Mec. "My fascination extends beyond design, to pattern cutting, and textiles," he says. "As a fashion business, however, we do not target 'customers,' but we create advocates. This, for us, is a true measure of our growth and success. It is also the reason that we have been able to sustain our brand without overt advertising since its launch." Achaijan's passion and quest for uniqueness is yet again evident in the brand's most recent line, Rêverie, its Spring/Summer 2023 collection that is characterized by tropical prints, broderie anglaise fabrics, and Mediterranean designs. While the design process for Rêverie involved collaborations with local craftsmen, it also incorporated metalized fabrics produced by Switzerland-based fashiontech brand Ferronato. "For Spring Summer 2023, Maison du Mec undertook the dare of subverting the tension between conventional realities and irrational aspirations," Achaijan explains. "The season's offerings are elaborated as double agents between the effortless and the engineered, the glamorous and the understated, reevaluating the summer wardrobe stereotypes that we all casually entertain."

As for what's next after Rêverie, Achaijan says that he hopes to keep carrying Maison du Mec forward with the same values he has led it thus far. "Sustaining our aspiration to inspire authenticity and relevance in every piece without compromising on true craftsmanship is our bottom line," he says. "Fashion is not only a way to express oneself, but also to find and mold oneself. I must say it's a huge pleasure to contribute to that in any way. Be it through expanding our customer experience into physical retail shops, or diversifying our product offerings into athleisure and even furniture- you'll have to stay tuned!"

Related: Follow The Leader: Dima Ayad, Founder, Dima Ayad, And DAC Communications

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed

Features Writer, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aalia Mehreen Ahmed is the Features Writer at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is an MBA (Finance) graduate with past experience in the corporate sector, and is also co-founder of CyberSWIFTT- an anti-cyberbullying campaign that ran from 2017-2018 as part of the e7: Daughters of the Emirates program. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, she has a penchant for chai, cricket, comic book films, and all things BTS. 

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