Founded in 1992 by Bassem Souwaidan, Al Wissam first opened on West Vernor Hwy. in Southwest Detroit. Not once did Souwaidan imagine that his small family-run business would shoot to success not only in Michigan, but throughout the United States. Today, the Al Wissam brand is sold in more than 30 different states, along with major cities in Canada. Before Souwaidan started the brand, Detroit was recognized internationally as an automobile city — not a fashion city.
The Detroit designer created the clothing line that has global distribution throughout the United States and Canada after seven successful years in the retail business. As an immigrant from Lebanon, Souwaidan didn’t know any English, he immediately became his own boss. A few years after struggling from selling clothes from door-to-door in the streets of New York, Souwaidan then moved to Michigan and opened a stand at the Gibraltar Trade Center. He worked there on the weekends, and during the week he delivered bread from Michigan to New York. The money he made from delivering the bread went towards clothing for his stand at Gibraltar. He then opened the first ever Al Wissam retail store in Southwest Detroit. Within a few years after opening, The Al Wissam clothing store became so popular it became one of the largest clothing retailers in the Midwest.
After seven successful years in the retail business, Souwaidan accomplished his dream and launched the first ever Al Wissam Leather Jacket. This was the start of a very culturally diverse era in Detroit fashion. What made these hand-made leather jackets special was the amount of work and art that’s put into it. Each stitched leather jacket has over a million stitches and is covered in numerous art work. With Al Wissam being a multicultural company, we used fashion as a tool to introduce elements of other cultures to our customers. We created jackets that displayed the iconic Great Wall of China, the complexity of hieroglyphics, the Unique Aztec culture, the beauty of African landscape and tradition, and honored various holidays from regions all over the globe, just to name a few. We also honored individual greatness. We made jackets that which showcased various artists in the hip-hop industry, a jacket in which celebrated the nation’s first African American President, Barack Obama, and a jacket that honored the marvelous martial artists Bruce Lee and Mohammed Ali. We also documented a history with a jacket covered in speeches by Martin Luther King JR. and Malcom X. Through the years, these jackets have featured in magazines and have been on display in hundreds of music videos for high-profile artists, such as 50Cent, Big Sean, Young Jeezy, Ice Cube, Young Buck, Trick Trick, Ludacris, Ty Dolla $ign, and even Beyoncé. The jackets have also been sported by many professional athletes.
Bringing people together, promoting, understanding, tolerance, and respect for ourselves and others is our goal.