Faraz Zaidi built a 7-figure cultural brand in a lucrative industry that started with Nas lyrics on a shirt. Over the next decade, the business grew into a multimillion-dollar global clothing enterprise admired by Gigi Hadid, John Mayer, Rihanna and The Weeknd.
In 2008, Faraz Zaidi, a first-generation Pakistani who immigrated to the U.S. at age 3, decided to print the lyrics to “The World Is Yours,” by his favorite rapper turned investor, Nas, on a blank t-shirt. “What spoke to me about Nas in general at that point in my life was the fact that he was telling stories through a medium that I hadn’t seen anyone tell a story through,” says Zaidi. “I knew I couldn’t make music so I picked the storytelling component through fashion and in many ways, music was the catalyst.” The t-shirt never saw the light of day but through the process of transferring music onto fabric, the seed of Profound, a now 7-figure family-owned fashion brand and creative agency was planted.
Amid a host of challenges impacting the global fashion industry spanning hyperinflation, decreased consumer confidence, manufacturing and supply chain logistics, McKinsey’s 2022 State of Fashion report finds optimism at the forefront. “We had expected that the whole fashion industry would not get back to 2019 levels until the end of 2022 – and we already achieved that at the end of 2021,” said Achim Berg, Senior Partner at McKinsey.
The idea for Profound (originally named Profound Aesthetic) was born out of mutual interests between three Zaidi’s – Faraz who leads brand vision and creative direction, his sister Iram Zaidi who heads up operations and finance, and their cousin Nabil Zaidi who oversees design and strategy. “We saw a visible need in the market for clothing with meaning,” says Zaidi. “We were all into design, business and philosophy – the intersection felt perfect and it came about quite naturally. We never really sat down to form a master plan, kind of just figured it out as we went and watched it grow as time progressed and our skill sets evolved.” Taking a bet on apparel over a decade ago was a lucrative one – the hottest U.S. supplier at the time, American Apparel, reported net sales of $144 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Putting roots down in the suburban enclave of Manalapan, New Jersey, the Zaidi family valued education, entrepreneurialism and the arts. Zaidi’s late father along with his brother first arrived in Kansas City, Missouri from Lahore, Pakistan for college in the 1970s, donned with bell bottom pants and dreams of providing better opportunities for the next generation, a consistent concept embedded in the Zaidi familial fabric. “I have two elder brothers in the building and construction business and my sister and I work together, but we all cross over and assist each other when needed within our respective businesses.”
From an early age, Zaidi, the youngest of three siblings, approached life through a unique lens, one of a builder. Zaidi had odd jobs that emboldened him with a sense of hard work and the entrepreneurial skills essential for the long run. From selling TV’s at Best Buy
At first glance, Profound appears to be a luxury unisex streetwear brand available for the digital “profound” class=”color-link” title=”https://hypebeast.com/search/?s=profound” data-ga-track=”ExternalLink:https://hypebeast.com/search/?s=profound” aria-label=”hypebeast”>hypebeast,” and it is–but what is behind the veneer of accessible fashion is the meaning behind each detail, pattern and color selection. “I’m realizing this now more than ever how the spirit of my design comes from the rich artistic craftsmanship of the skilled workers in my homeland, along with the intricate design and patterns in the traditional clothing I saw my grandmother and mother wearing growing up,” says Zaidi.
The layered intention built into the brand reaches segments of culture other brands cannot compete with. Beyond the internet hype machine, the product variety hits unsuspecting retail shoppers across financial buckets, design conscious online patrons and a host of famous familiars.
Dozens of celebrities and other members of the creative class like Jack Harlow, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Uzi Vert, Joe Jonas, The Weeknd and even Rihanna have all been spotted in Profound. Surprisingly, the brand has never paid for a celeb to wear their clothes and Zaidi notes “it is through curating selections individual their personal style and building personal relationships,” as the reason so many stars have been able to admire and enjoy the brand.
Fashion and music have been connected at the hip for decades – both reflecting the unique cultural ebbs and flows of the season. In an interview with WWD, singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, spells out the creative intersection. “Music and fashion go hand in hand. I think music inspires all types of arts; it inspires life, emotion, mood, and all of those things are reflected in my fashion and my style. One doesn’t go without the other.” In 2021 Rihanna hit billionaire status, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world and second only to Oprah Winfrey as the richest female entertainer.
The cofounder family trio has taken the brand from scrappy trade show floor beginnings in 2012 to a culturally impactful business sold in over 50 online and physical retailers globally including Nordstrom, REVOLVE, Saks Fifth Ave and Selfridges & Co. Outside of North America, Profound has international distributors servicing lucrative touch-points throughout Europe, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Under the Profound umbrella, a sub-label, Falling Forward, sold exclusively at Urban Outfitters and PacSun as well as and design services agency fuel additional revenue streams for the trio.
Levering relationships built over the past 12 years, the creative agency side of the business provides design and production services for Forbes listers like self-proclaimed marketing guru Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuk. Profound has employees in the double digits, rotates in remote freelance talent and partners with strategic content agencies to extend their digital footprint.
As apparel industry trends undulate, confidence may be found looking through the lens of VF
“I want for the legacy to be that we’ve carved out our own path in an industry with strict gate keepers. We’ve given the idea of possibility and hope to other Pakistani and South Asian-born immigrants, other young designers and entrepreneurs and did it with integrity. For parents that left their home country to pursue something greater we want to be able to build scalable business infrastructure to support a better life for our families.”
- Is This Fashion Brand Really Sustainable Or Just Expensive, And More Ethical Shopping Questions Answered
- Will Fashion Retailers Launching Beauty Lines Succeed?
- Cody Simpson Launches Eco-Friendly Fashion Brand ‘Prince Neptune’
- These Plus-Size Clothing Stores & Brands Are Editor-Approved
- Kate Moss goes naked to announce new wellness brand, Cosmoss