At first glance, Andrew Moussa’s childhood fascination with superheroes, and his concern for the environment, might not be considered combinable with his passion for fashion. And yet, it is the case that he has put all three together in a practical, sophisticated and enchanting manner. His company, Imperium Denim, manufactures jeans for men out of Canada, made of cotton, recycled plastic and empowerment. They are the perfect mélange of quality of experience and comfort. After sitting down to a stimulating conversation with Andrew, it became fairly obvious that he is not simply trying to sell you a pair of his jeans; he is selling you a powerful message of sustainability, leadership and style.
Andrew grew up in the town of Mount Royal, in Montreal, to a “sheltered” family. “I was a shy kid most of my life,” Andrew snickered. When I asked him to embellish on this, he mentioned his childhood allure to the magic of superheroes, and revealed to me his collection of superhero busts and action figurines. “I have a batman bust, a superman bust, among others, and some comics worth a good deal of money,” he explained. Further on in his life, his enchantment with those who would protect human rights on pages of books turned to those who protected our rights in reality. Among them were world leaders and everyday supermen such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela (which his jeans are named after, but I’ll explain that later).
After high school, he attended Marianopolis College, studying health science with the ambition of being a doctor, but quickly realized the sciences were not for him. He enjoyed the idea of helping people but didn’t feel the passion for medicine required in that field. He switched paths when he became a student at McGill and decided to try out a more business-related field by transferring to finance. After graduating from McGill, he started working in investment banking and specializing in equity research. However, five years later, Andrew realized that he just wasn’t passionate enough about finance either. Again, he liked the idea of helping people make the right decisions with their money and their time, but the whole human experience in itself was lacking.
It was the dawn of a new day when Andrew began to follow his dream of starting up his own business. “I needed a change of atmosphere from what I was doing in finance,” Andrew explained. “I felt like it was the right time to start something on my own and to create something that I believed in.” He told me that he had begun to notice that many of the men he worked with in finance were extremely well put together and were comfortable wearing all different kinds of colours. He decided to translate this to jeans and to have a different colour coin pocket for his three different styles of jeans. “The jeans are made of cotton and recycled plastic bottles,” he told me. “They are also named after different influential leaders known worldwide. The MAHTY is named after Mahatma Gandhi and is a skinny jean. The NELLY, after Nelson Mandela, is a slim fit jean, and currently my bestseller. Finally, there is the MARTY, after Martin Luther King Jr., and that is a relaxed fit.” He knew he wanted to create something that would empower people but also be respectful of the environment as well as represent something that he personally believed in. On the inner left pocket of all of his jeans there is a quote, stating “you must be the change we wish to see in the world” by Gandhi. “I want my jeans to inspire people to be everyday superheroes, and to make a difference without necessarily having to lead by example in an obvious way.” On the back pocket of the jeans there is a stitching in the form of barbed wire and it’s meant to imply that you should keep your boundaries behind you. The jeans are meant to serve as a reminder, “and have the ability to send an inspirational message,” he said. “But at the end of the day I am selling jeans. They need be comfortable, fit you and be stylish. If you have the choice between wearing a pair of jeans that looks good on you, and a pair that has a story, you will almost always choose the latter. My jeans have both, the combination of comfort, class and a good story.”
“Becoming an international brand that is carried in thousands of stores is my long-term goal, and I’m hoping to start a woman’s line in the future as well,” he said. His plans to keep producing quality fashion trends that are respectful of the environment and that promote a better quality of living are clearly in the works. Andrew explained to me further that “initially, being alone means there is no one else who knows the company as well as you. It makes it more difficult to get relevant advice, but I am growing with the business.” Success in all of his affairs is extremely important to him, but he fundamentally believes that it all boils down to passion.
Further, he is also a runner who works out and knocks back four coffees a day in order to keep active, energetic and vibrant. Andrew also personally supports movements such as Sun Youth organization, as well as the Enbridge ride to conquer cancer. He also believes in supporting everyday leaders that constantly make an effort to learn, grow, and make a difference, as difficult as it may be at times. When I asked Andrew how he was going to continue living his notable life, he said, “by continuing to make a difference and to acknowledge that ability. We should also use our social media platforms to raise awareness, and to promote positive change by making an impact in simple ways ideally – or sometimes in more complex ways. In my case, I created a brand around something that I believed in and I think that people should go out into the world and do the same by living passionately as much as possible.”
Andrew’s final thoughts: “Stay strong and grind through the tough times.”
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)