Meet PR agency founder Khabi Mirza
Khabi Mirza is the co-founder of Shoreditch agency Fabric PR. Born and bred in London, Khabi tells us about his career in journalism which spans across three decades, as well as his beautifully eclectic sense of style.
Tell us about your impressive career journey from your early years in journalism to running your own PR agency.
Leaving York Uni with a politics degree in ’93 imbibed me with a passion for dancing in fields and little direction in terms of career. Fortunately, I fell into a junior writing role on Metal Hammer covering the then embryonic Seattle grunge scene. The sounds were a far cry from the beats and baggy indie blaring from my pull-out car stereo but I loved it. And, while I was by no means a metal head, I certainly liked my techno tough which led me to work on the now demised Ministry magazine, covering the then foot-to-the-floor London club scene with its kaleidoscope of house, techno, garage, breakbeat and d’n’b clubs. Making my deadlines back then was somewhat a challenge but it led to a gig covering the same scene for GQ under the undisputed godfather of lads’ mags and founder of Loaded, James Brown.
I had always loved my fashion so, when the opportunity arose in 1999 to move to Menswear, another sadly-no-longer title, I took it. From there, I freelanced at sibling title FHM, and quickly realised that covering the fashion sector was my dream gig. After five years on Menswear, I extended my journalist oeuvre to cover women’s fashion, menswear, denim, sports and even lingerie working with industry weekly, Drapers, where after a few years I managed two busy desks under the role of Fashion & Features Editor.
From covering fashion weeks and styling shoots to interviewing business and design leaders and covering the hottest new store launches, the role was a blast. Without wishing to distract from the tireless hours and dedication to my chapter as a journalist, the ‘90s and early ‘00s were an era defined by excess and there was largely a much healthier balance between working hard and playing hard.
As George Harrison once said, all things must pass, and with encroaching fatherhood and the various updates that family brings, I put down the pen and turned my love and understanding of how to get people buzzing about fashion into a career in communications, launching Shoreditch agency Fabric PR, which I run with my wife Holly (who had spent a lifetime in fashion PR) and a crack team of 19 publicists.
It’s quite apparent from your Instagram page @khabism that you enjoy dressing well. Where does your love of menswear come from?
What I remember most clearly from my first teenage date was less the company (as delightful as Zoe Bing certainly was), or main feature Top Gun’s dizzying aerial acrobatics, and more Pepe Jeans’ indelible Raindance ad which preceded the movie. The ad combined the lazy pounding drum of How Soon Is Now by The Smiths with a film whose narrative spun from a befeathered Native American shaman summoning a long overdue downpour in a sweltering Arizona desert, to a serendipitous meeting of Paninaro-uniformed boy and girl in a rain-drenched Portobello Market.
In terms of impact, the Raindance ad was everything. An irresistible cocktail of London, music, fashion, and Americana, Pepe’s 1980’s campaign helped light the fuse on a sartorial journey which would lead me from the Fila, Sergio casual terrace fashion days through to Ray Petri’s tailoring/workwear/sport Buffalo mash-up, onto the dayglo West Country rave scene and beyond.
You’re born and bred in London. You must know the place very well! What are your favourite places to seek inspiration?
From the ill-spent 1980’s scouring iconic fashion hubs like Kensington Market, Hyper Hyper and the Bluebird Garage, to the free parties and clubs of the 1990’s, onto the Soho, Camden and Shoreditch days of the 2000’s, London has always been crackling with inspiration. Most of my inspo these days still comes from strolling streets, catching glimpses of cool kids, young and old.
While the internet is an incredible tool to connect with everything from Tokyo to Toronto it has sadly led to the demise of the tribes which once made London so dynamic and unique. I am fortunate enough to work in Shoreditch which is such a melting pot of creativity when it comes to fashion. But boy, does seeing ‘90’s revivalist looks on teens make me feel long in the tooth.
What do you currently enjoy wearing? Whether it be vintage pieces or brands you’re into at the moment.
I have a thirst for colour, pattern and texture, and enjoy combining pieces which belong to different genres. So, I will happily layer tweed with a military field jacket and denim jeans. But most of all I thoroughly and genuinely enjoy clothing. Denim has always anchored my outfits and much to my wife’s chagrin, I’m a hopeless hoarder of jeans, as well as suits, leather jackets, sunglasses, scarves, overcoats, you catch my pile-high drift. While I’m sincerely attempting in my ever-advancing years to incorporate trousers into my daily routine (and have a weakness for Italian brand Incotex), I find myself returning day in and out to vintage jeans upon which I layer a combination of tailoring and casuals.
I’m constantly fascinated by the Americana-inspired eccentricity of Visvim and the military/workwear/sportswear kaleidoscope of both Engineered Garments and Monitaly.
There are some real gems in your items for sale from the likes of Visvim, EG and Haversack. Do you have any interesting stories to share on any of the items you have for sale?
Being a fan of workwear, tailoring and military detailing, I’ve been enthralled by Daiki Suzuki’s interpretation of all three through Engineered Garments. While I was a fashion journalist I reported on trends and brands at menswear exhibition Pitti Uomo in Florence and had the opportunity to catch-up and interview Daiki regularly at the show. It’s been fascinating watching and wearing the brand as it has evolved. Some of my favourite moments from EG have been those when Daiki experiments with print, pattern and texture. Some of his foulard prints and hippy patterns from SS14 were particularly mind-bending. Ended up hunting down quite a few trippy numbers from that season.
What does the rest of 2022 look like for you? Any exciting projects or trips planned?
Literally, cannot wait to resume travels to the fashion shows this summer and am already scheduling trips to Florence, Paris, Copenhagen and Berlin. We’ve had two long years missing plane-hopping, toiling in foreign climes, breaking bread with seldom seen friends and making a little international mischief along the way.
As I write this my mind is thinking ahead to a week’s hiking trip I have planned for Friday. At last, a chance to pull out the Patagonia, Fjallraven and Arc’teryx for a proper rural workout. Since turning 40 I’ve been celebrating each birthday in the Cumbrian hills. Although, the last trip was pre-pandemic on 47th. Do the maths, I’m ancient.
Take a look at Khabi's selection of special pre-owned pieces from the likes of Haversack, Engineered Garments, Visvim and more.