Collaboration with Ismail’s Barber Shop

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Nice hair Max

When Matt first walked into Ismail’s Barber Shop on relocating to a studio in Kingston-upon-Thames, he immediately bonded with brothers Zish, Farhan and Ahmed Ismail over a shared love of trainers as well as their barbering skills.

Away from the barber chairs, inside the store there was also an enviable collection of rare Nike trainers and a newly opened Sneaker Cleaning Service. It turned out the brothers were long-time fans of Matt’s work and it wasn’t long before a collaboration was decided on. Matt had noted that the brothers wore matching black coach jackets in their workplace, and it was decided he would create an illustration for their jackets.

The brief was to design something that reflected both the barber business and their sneaker interests as well as the legacy of the shop – it’s existed since 1979, when it was opened by their father and uncles.

They wanted the image to feature a person, while also bearing in mind that there should be no recognisable facial features included to align with their Muslim beliefs. Matt’s solution is shown here, playing with brand iconography and text to create an illustration that covers all requirements. That image will now feature on new jackets worn by the brothers in the shop.

But they’re not just being worn by the brothers. Matt also art directed a shoot for the jackets, featuring the brothers while keeping their faces hidden. The photographer was Matt’s friend Mark Shearwood, who has previous with Vogue, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein, who again made sure the brothers’ faces were hidden to respect their religion. The black version of the jacket is available to buy for £45 from 7 September, both at Matt’s General Store or direct from the barber shop. In the latter case, your purchase will also entitle you to a free trim.

For the record, Matt has described his illustration as “a love letter to the swoosh”, adding “Sorry Nike… I just drew it”.