Take a look into your closet. Chances are you’ll see a rainbow of cheap tanks, flimsy tees, and trendy-for-about-five-minutes skirts filling in the gaps between your more precious pieces. It’s nearly impossible to avoid buying into the massive industry of fast fashion, especially if you’re on a student’s budget and like to switch up your look from day to day, and with high fashion becoming cheapened by rampant logomania and a decreased attention to the craftsmanship that makes designer desirable in the first place, these so-called investment pieces often aren’t worth the investment anymore.

 

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Fashion is art, but it’s hard to see the artistry when fashion becomes more about branding, trends, and sales figures than creativity and quality. That’s why Reham Choudhury, Haris Fazlani, Rey Banaban, and Freddy Duran joined forces in order to create a line of products that feature superior materials, craftsmanship, and attention to detail with minimal branding and the highest quality possible. Their Dallas-based line, VERUM, has been quietly revolutionizing the fashion industry, one python-accented button-down at a time, and they’re only getting started.

 

We caught up with Haris, Reham, and Rey to learn a little more about how the line got started, the philosophy and inspiration behind their designs, and what’s next for this up-and-coming brand (Hint: they’re pretty much looking to take over the world).

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Although VERUM is based in Dallas, its founders came from all over the country, each with a different background, but all with a similar vision. Haris was a self-described artsy kid who was always interested in the transformative power of clothing. Reham grew up with a DIY mentality that he says came from not having much as a kid. Like Haris, he loves the diverse ways that fashion can make people feel. The two connected over their frustration with a fashion industry more concerned with brand names than quality. They had an idea for a clothing line based around bringing truth and transparency back to fashion, with a focus on material and design rather than conspicuous branding. Rey, who had his own line at the time, shared Haris’ and Reham’s mission: He wanted to build a brand that would last. When Rey eventually parted with his original brand and the three formed a partnership (that would later include marketing director Freddy Duran), VERUM was born. Their first collection debuted in March 2013 to instant fanfare and critical praise. Every androgynous, minimalistic piece was manufactured in the United States and produced in a limited run, with each item uniquely numbered. Haris, Rey, and Reham all emphasized that “the feel” of their products was of the utmost importance. They wanted others to feel the fabric of a piece and know that it was VERUM. The guys had “finally found [their] identity in fashion”- and they’ve been building on that unique identity ever since.

 

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In their mission statement, VERUM’s founders state that they “have created VERUM to restore balance, first to the fashion industry, then to the world.” Sounds like a pretty lofty idea, but the guys of VERUM have their feet firmly on the ground and are clearly working hard to bring this vision to life. According to Haris, there’s something of a “bubble” in today’s fashion world. Branding, celebrity endorsements, loud logos, and publicity have taken over the industry – or, in Haris’ words, “the most hyped-up pieces are sold the most.” In VERUM’s eyes, “balance” means an industry in which quality takes precedence over a brand’s name or reputation. Balance is making the best product over everything else. In Reham’s eyes, “there are way too many brands and designers out there waiting to catch the big wave instead of going out there and creating the wave on their own.” So now, VERUM is making its own waves by shunning prominent logos and mass production in favor of careful attention to detail and quality- “from fabric to stitching to packaging.”

 

So what inspires the guys of VERUM? First and foremost are everyday life and pop culture – they’re inspired by “all different types of mediums.” They also cite the fusion of four distinct tastes and perspectives as a major creative force behind the brand. Fashion-wise, the guys obsess over the work of Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent, as well as that of streetwear pioneer Paul Budnitz of Kidrobot. They also cite music as a major inspiration. Haris names The Weeknd as a favorite band, while Reham admires Pharrell Williams for his creative flexibility and work on several distinct projects at once. Although the guys love the aesthetic and feel of New York City and still see it as the fashion capital of the US, it’s clear that their home base of Dallas is also a major influence on their work. One of VERUM’s many goals is to “influence and create an identity for the city of Dallas.”The brand is just one facet of a bright new “movement” of art, fashion, and creative talent that its founders assert is putting Dallas at the forefront of today’s up-and-coming cities.

 

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VERUM isn’t just a leader on the Dallas fashion scene. They’re also one of the first androgynous clothing lines that manages to reach beyond basic t-shirts and hoodies while still remaining extraordinarily wearable and surprisingly affordable. Although unisex clothing is becoming more and more ubiquitous in mainstream fashion, the guys of VERUM can see their line being split into menswear and womenswear sometime in the future – they love their female customers and would love the chance to attract many more in the years to come. So why did they choose to create a line of androgynous clothing rather than a more traditional collection? In a sense, it was a happy accident – Rey says that he “couldn’t even tell you exactly what it was,” but all three agree that they love seeing women in “not-so-formfitting clothing,” and that “it takes a real confident women to rock…something masculine and make it look sexy.” The guys enjoy seeing women add their own unique, feminine touches to VERUM’s minimalist pieces. Plus, as the guys joked, creating pieces for both sexes helps with the budget – but “that’s just a plus!”

 

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And now, the big question: what’s next for VERUM? In short, the world. as Rey confirmed, “[they’re] not talking about traveling the world, [they’re] talking about taking it over.” In the meantime though, travel is at the top of the guys’ list. They’re itching to learn about other countries’ fashion senses and methods of producing clothing. Gaining more international customers is also a to-do for VERUM. One of Reham’s main goals for the brand is to see it expand into London, which he sees as a global hub for fashion and culture. The guys are currently working on their Autumn/Winter 2014 collection and are meeting with stores interested in carrying their line (when we spoke, Rey and Reham were in New York meeting with potential buyers). They describe the new collection as a return to VERUM’s original roots, with new details and an expanded selection (although they plan to keep the line limited and exclusive). Manufacturing pieces in limited runs allows the designers to concentrate on quality and “gives a sense of pride to the buyer” because he or she owns something unique. VERUM’s founders agree that their end goal is to create both products and a philosophy that last – as Reham puts it, “[our] ideal future for VERUM is for it to live on past any of us.”

“We like to push the envelope. We like to go out of our comfort zone”

Whether it’s bringing truth to an imbalanced industry, taking androgynous fashion to new heights, or simply creating beautiful, high-quality clothing, it is without a doubt that Reham, Haris, Rey, and Freddy will continue to push the envelope and maybe even rule the world someday.