The rise and rise of Daily Paper

The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House

Soho House members and founders of the Dutch streetwear brand, Abderrahmane Trabsini, Hussein Suleiman and Jefferson Osei, share the secrets to their 10-year success

Wednesday 21 December 2022   By Sagal Mohammed

Daily Paper founders Abderrahmane Trabsini, Hussein Suleiman and Jefferson Osei are experts in the art of building from the ground up. Over the past decade, the three friends and business partners have grown what was once a small blog, covering local fashion and music in Amsterdam, to a global contemporary streetwear brand with a cult following – and everyone from Jay-Z to Michelle Obama wearing their designs. 

The Dutch brand represents something that goes beyond just selling clothes. With no external investors and a firm ethos that centers community, Daily Paper is pushing culture forward in a way that is forging legacy by championing the African heritage of its founders: Trabsini is of Moroccan descent, while Suleiman is Somali and Osei is Ghanaian. Their designs merge the influences of their Western upbringings and diasporic experience in the Netherlands with traditional prints and patterns inspired by their African roots – a recipe that has led them to success not only in their native country but also globally, having opened stores in London and New York, as well as their flagship in Amsterdam. 

This year, Daily Paper celebrated its 10-year anniversary in style, partnering with adidas to design jerseys for Dutch football club AFC Ajax – their biggest collaboration to date, though impressive partnerships come second nature to them, having previously teamed up with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White (who they joined forces with to build the first-ever skate park in Ghana last December), Puma, and Nigerian superstar, WizKid. 

While they’re a long way off from where they started, Trabsini, Suleiman and Osei – who first connected as a three in 2009 during King’s Day celebrations in Amsterdam – are only just flexing their muscles. ‘We’re starting the big league now,’ says Trabsini. ‘Our goal is to go global and we’ve got a long way to go.’ 

Here, Suleiman and Trabsini, reflect on their success so far, how they got here, and the future of Daily Paper. 

The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House
The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House
The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House

What were your first jobs?
Abderrahmane Trabsini: ‘Being a dish washer at a restaurant during weekends while I was in school. As a side hustle, I was also freelancing as a graphic designer, creating logos and making websites to earn some extra money.’

Hussein Suleiman: ‘I used to work in a tulip field. It was cool – I’d do it during the summers. We’d show up every day and they’d take us to a new field, so it was fun. It felt like a mini trip each day. But my back used to hurt from picking all the tulips.’ 

What keeps you both motivated?  
HS: ‘What keeps me motivated now is different to what kept me motivated when we first started this 10 years ago. Today, maintaining what we’ve built and expanding keeps me going forward. Starting over in new places is something we’ve done twice now, once in London and then again in New York. Thinking about what we could do in those places and other parts of the world really motivates me.’ 

AT: ‘We have the luxury of being one of the biggest fashion brands in our home country. In the Netherlands you constantly see the brand everywhere, so what keeps me motivated is having that same level of success in other parts of the world. I’m always happy when I’m travelling and people tell me that they know the brand Daily Paper. We’ve got our stores in London and New York, but I want to grow that and expand into Asia, too. The US is still such a new market for us. I was in LA and Miami recently and hearing people talk about the brand and familiarising themselves with it really motivated me to keep pushing it.’ 

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome them?  
AT: ‘It wouldn’t be fun if everything went smoothly all the time. I think the more you grow, the more challenges you face. Opening in new markets is definitely a challenge, but it’s a welcome one. Making bigger collections and dealing with the pandemic was tough. Lockdown caused a lot of delays for us that we’re still catching up with now, but it also led us to finding new creative ways to solve those problems.’

HS: ‘Yes, opening in new markets is a big challenge. Before we launched our store in New York, I spent years there getting a sense of things and networking. You can’t just copy and paste your business model and apply it to new markets, that’s not how it works. You have to start from scratch in each place and build a community there from the ground up. 

‘Another really big challenge is the pressure of being responsible for the career of others. We started this with just three of us: myself, Abder and Jeff. Now, we have a whole team of people who are on this journey and are working with us. It can be daunting to think that we’re not only trying to make our own dreams come true, but also the dreams of others.’

The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House

What are the most essential traits to have as leaders?  
HS: ‘What I think makes us good leaders is creating common goals for our team. I think that’s very important, because not everybody at Daily Paper comes there simply for a paycheck; they also come because they believe in the vision and want to see it succeed. Our role as leaders is to keep our team motivated beyond the paycheck and show that we’re doing it for a bigger purpose. If they were simply there to get paid, there are plenty of other fashion brands they could have gone to, especially in Amsterdam where we have a lot of corporate headquarters for major companies and the pay is probably a lot better too.’ 

AT: ‘I agree. The brand is bigger than the founders now. It’s not leaning on us anymore, it’s leaning on the company. It’s what we’ve always dreamt of, and as leaders we have to always keep that in mind.’ 
  
What’s the one thing you’ve needed to get you where you are today? 
HS: ‘I think we definitely needed a level of delusion. We started this when we were really young, between 21 and 23, and at the time we were way more naive. If I was to start the company today, I wouldn’t be able to do so in the same way because I’m way more cynical than I was back then. It’s something that I always yearn for now, the days where we were just completely fearless as we didn’t have as much to lose. We were always on the go, so sporadic. We’d hop around from Paris to London with a day’s notice – our answer was always “we’ll figure it out”.’

The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House
The rise and rise of Daily Paper | Soho House

Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from? 
AT: ‘I think that’s something I’ve developed over time. I grew up never seeing my dad because he was always working to provide for us. I’m from a big family: four sisters and two brothers, so I’ve always known that you have to work hard. The entrepreneurial drive was just there for us naturally. When we had the blog, we decided to make merchandise to promote it, which is how it all started. And when we made that switch from the blog to producing T-shirts, that’s when we started thinking like entrepreneurs.’ 

Have you had any mentors? 
HS: ‘My dad has been my main mentor – he’s a very religious man and everything he references is from Islam. He taught me how to move as a person and how to move as a man, and those are values that I have carried with me in business and in my personal life. We’ve also met a lot of people in the fashion industry who have given us words of encouragement and looked out for us in a sense because they’ve viewed us as little brothers. We were never a threat to them, so they’d always speak openly to us and share advice. We also came out of the digital revolution, where things were changing a lot in the industry with the rise of social media, which we’ve always been tapped into. So often, we were learning things at the same time as those before us and even had an advantage due to being part of a younger generation who were already familiar with things like Instagram when it was blowing up.’

Finally, what have been your career highlights? 
AT: ‘We celebrated our 10-year anniversary this year, which was definitely a special moment for us. We’re always focusing on what’s next, the next collection drop, the next collaboration. We rarely take time to reflect on how far we have come, so that night celebrating in our home town with a huge party allowed us to take a step back and take everything in.’