"I wanted to have my own business so I can be my own boss"
Leeds-based Sohail Rashid is the founder of AIME DIEU, a fashion brand that has become popular among celebrities just a few years into its creation.
But despite its success, fashion was not his first career choice.
He was a mortgage manager, having worked for HSBC for well over a decade.
However, things changed when he was made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Undeterred by the setback, Sohail decided to venture into the world of fashion and created his own brand, designing unisex clothing in a wide range of colours and sizes.
AIME DIEU has quickly amassed a celebrity following and has even led to a collaboration with his beloved Leeds United.
Sohail spoke to DESIblitz about how he created AIME DIEU and how it led to a collaboration with his boyhood club.
What were you doing before you got into the fashion industry?
I have been working for HSBC since I graduated and my first day was on August 1, 2005.
During this time, I became a mortgage manager and worked in Malta for HSBC Malta twice over a period of two years.
Why did you create a fashion brand?
I wanted to have my own business so I can be my own boss and so no one would tell me that I am not wanted.
Things changed when Covid-19 came around and I was made redundant.
I was a hard-working manager for HSBC and felt very let down when I was let go.
So I decided to start an online business so I can do what I have always had a passion for, run my own company.
I’d never really thought about doing something on the side before but that really gave me a push to explore what I could do.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been the most fashionable guy but I had this thing in my head about starting a clothing line so I did a bit of research and decided to give it a go.
What was your inspiration behind the designs and brand name AIME DIEU?
I spent six months looking for a name and each time I thought I had found one. When I tried to register the name it was taken.
I am the creator and designer and do everything myself.
I have always been an artist and have been very good with drawing and designs and it helped me design my own brand and items which people love.
I listened to a lot of podcasts and found that brands with just four letters are very successful which was important.
Also that it needed to mean something.
“Football players have an affiliation with God and thought that would be a good starting point.”
AIME DIEU means ‘Love God’ in French, and I wanted a brand that has a meaning to something which everyone can relate to.
Were there any challenges in getting it off the ground?
I faced several issues and challenges.
No one liked the name and found the link between ‘Love God’ and clothing items a bit strange.
I was very passionate and believed in myself.
I always knew it might take me a long time but I will make the brand work.
In your opinion, when did AIME DIEU first see a significant rise in popularity?
AIME DIEU kicked off with then-Leeds United footballer – now at Barcelona – Raphinha the Brazilian winger.
I met his commercial agent and his dad and they said Raphinha would review items and if he likes it, he will wear it.
Raphinha wore the items on Instagram and his commercial manager messaged me stating that Raphinha loves the items and he would like more.
“From there, it just got easier when other famous footballers started to wear the items.”
Chloe Vetich from the Netflix hit TV show Too Hot to Handle, who has two million Instagram followers, bought the item and made a one-minute video and shared it on social media.
From there, I didn’t look back.
AIME DIEU is popular among celebrities. What does that mean to you?
Every celebrity and customer loved the quality and the look and feel.
They like it so much many have left reviews on my website which is great and sent me private messages or shared Instagram Reels talking about the quality.
Explain the brand’s community-focused aspect and any charitable efforts
My brand’s mission statement is called the ‘Pass It Forward’ movement.
So for every item we sell, I am giving back a pair of socks to the homeless community.
The plan is for Christmas week to donate socks. Hence I need everyone to buy and help out for a noble cause.
It will be given to any local charity group that is to be decided.
Tell me more about your collaboration with Leeds United
I have emailed the Leeds United chairman for 12 months every day and my email was ignored by Andrea Radrizzani.
But in March 2022, he replied and called me in for a meeting.
“I presented to him my vision and idea which he liked and I designed bespoke hoodies with my brand in Leeds United colours.”
Since then I have had meetings with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and another major Premier League team.
What does your vision for the future of AIME DIEU look like?
My vision is to have my items nationwide and also cover the US market.
I am a humble guy and haven’t still upgraded my car.
As the vision is the day I do what I have set out from the onset which is ruling the UK market.
Then and only then I will buy a car.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own fashion brand?
My advice would be to every is you might lose your role in what you hate doing, so why not give yourself a chance on doing something that you are passionate about?
You have nothing to lose.
I worked 100 hours a week for two years.
It might be easy from the outside but major sacrifices have been made.
Sohail Rashid has created a hugely successful fashion brand in the space of a few years, stemming from the fact that he was made redundant during the pandemic.
Popular among celebrities and collaborating with the team he supports, Sohail has high hopes for AIME DIEU as he looks to expand to the United States.