Two immigrant success stories showcased through collaboration

Recently, Men’s fashion company Ocean Rebel and “Aladdin” star Mena Masoud collaborated to create the OR x M² capsule collection, inspired mainly from Mena’s past projects in film and his love for stylish trends. The line incorporates high-quality, comfort and modernization to bring the line into the now.

The collection is unique in many ways, as everything is produced in New York City, NY, and all fabrics are sourced locally from the USA – which was an incredible challenge to accomplish during COVID-19.

The entire collection is also produced as slow-fashion, meaning that all apparel is high-quality and at a fair price with extended longevity. Slow-Fashion delivers quality goods while upholding ethical manufacturing standards with an emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of fashion. This encourages customers to move away from disposable, one-time-wear “fast-fashion”.

One of the main goals for this line is to give back. From every purchase, a percentage is donated to Drop In The Bucket , a charitable organization dedicated to building wells and sanitation systems in schools throughout sub-Saharan Africa, enabling youth to fully harness the life-changing power of an education.

Ocean Rebel’s headquarters is located in Florida, USA – one of the main states affected by Hurricanes. Angela Farid, the founder of Ocean Rebel, grew up in Florida experiencing many water shortages, electrical outages and backup plumbing. As a child, she found it a novel experience that there was no running water, that the toilets wouldn’t flush. However, her “fun” experience was most likely due to her security in knowing that within a few hours or days, everything would be back up and running again. “As I was growing up, it dawned on me that many families have these issues as part of their daily routine and life, and as a female, running water and hygiene is of the most important to avoid infection and disease – at that moment I knew I wanted to make a change for those who did not have easy access to clean running water”, Angela said.

The origin of Ocean Rebel and their style stemmed mainly from Angela’s love of ocean sports such as wakeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing, and boating. In developing the aesthetic of the clothing, Angela aimed to stray away from typical “beachy” inspired designs (holes in t-shirts, large vibrant print, vintage-looking, surfing or beach graphics), and develop modern, clean, and more mature clothing for the watersports and ocean-loving individuals. Beginning when Angela was only 14, it was meant to stay as a side-hustle or merely a hobby. Nevertheless, every year the brand would strike a bit more interest, and grow slightly more eventually leading her to pursue the brand as a “full-time company”. As a woman in the Men’s fashion industry, Angela has faced many obstacles by constantly being seen as the underdog and struggled to be taken seriously. As she built experience, respect was given more often, however, “every once in a while you always come across individuals that feel it’s appropriate to make comments and “jokes” directed to being a female”, she said.

Both Angela and Mena were the children of Egyptian immigrants, her parents came to Toronto before moving to the U.S. where she was raised, whilst he grew up in Canada. Once connected, a natural friendship began as the two had a similar upbringing along with life challenges. For Angela, this took form in her different appearance, ideas, traditions, and most importantly a very different culture. Growing up she was taught many things that did not align with the American way of life that she was surrounded by. As she matured, her immediate family began to teach her that she could be whatever we want as long as she never gave up. However, her extended family and community had trouble understanding this concept, wishing for her to be “normal”, study, and graduate in a prestigious career such as dentistry or the medical field. “With this pressure, the doubt of succeeding tends to be a constant background thought”, she said.

Similarly, Mena was raised in Toronto from the age of 3, and faced confusion growing up as to which nationality he belonged to. As he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live, “I never felt like I was 100% Egyptian or 100% Canadian”. Mena frequently describes the disconnect between his childhood and the mainstream, for example joking “I grew up in am Egyptian household”, during an interview with POPSUGAR. In expressing the connection that he holds with Egypt, after finishing his starting role in “Aladdin”, he said “It was a huge thing, I went back to Egypt recently, and I really felt the love there”.

The hurdles that Angela and Mena have overcome, both from their families and from societal pressures regarding cultural backgrounds, appearances, nationality, and gender, truly go to show that with perseverance and hard work you can achieve your dreams no matter the circumstances. In the midst of a pandemic with low hopes and uncertain futures, a beautiful collaboration was built. In teaming up, they aim to inspire young men and women to follow their dreams, and never give up.

You can check out the OR x M² capsule collection on the Ocean Rebel website.




About Jaya Kumar 34 Articles
Jaya is a high school student in Toronto, and an aspiring creative writer. She is fascinated by the history of the city, and loves digging deep into the past to paint an accurate and vibrant picture of the city's historical events.