Based in the coastal town of La Marsa, just north of Tunis, Sofiane and Claire Ben Chaabane created the prêt-à-porter clothing line LYOUM in 2012 to celebrate contemporary Tunisia and its Mediterranean soul.
What does LYOUM the brand stand for?
LYOUM means “today” (or “the day”) in Tunisian Arabic dialect. It is a full tribute to this “new” post-revolution Tunisia, a brand name that highlights our parti-pris of showing a contemporary Tunisia, in movement, alive and moving forward.
What positive impact do you aim to have in shaping Tunisia?
We want to contribute to changing people’s perception of Tunisia and show what it is: a true Mediterranean beauty. We focus on Tunisia’s hidden treasures, leave all of the old clichés behind, and show the beautiful parts that are right around the corner.
What does Tunisia mean to you?
For us, Tunisia means the Mediterranean. Through its unique and central position, right at the heart of what Romans used to call Mare Nostrum, through its long history, its legends, its land, color, light and sea, Tunisia represents the quintessence of the Mediterranean. It captures the soul of the Mediterranean, that pure and essential feeling of well-being.
Where is your favorite place to vacation or visit within Tunisia? Why?
Our coup de coeur is Djerba. It is the perfect hideaway at any season. There is something almost mystical down in the island, related both to the pure whiteness of its light and the blueness of the sky and the sea. Djerba has kept its soul, it is still the land of tolerance and togetherness, the only place in Tunisia where people from different religions live together in peace and harmony. It’s a rare mix that you can find in people’s smile and simplicity, that you can taste in its very typical food.
What bars and restaurants do you love in Tunisia and why?
The places we love range from old school to downtown must-taste to new arty places. There is something exciting about jumping from one place to another, living fully the Tunisian vida loca: eating street food here and partying there, starting with a cocktail in Tunis, enjoying a fresh grilled fish in one of the old seafood restaurants of La Goulette, and ending the evening on a rooftop in front of the Mediterranean.
There has been an amazing explosion of new openings recently: new bars and restaurants, new galleries and boutiques, new boutique hotels and maisons d’hôtes. Creativity is everywhere, you feel like Tunisia has woken up after a long sleep. Habibi and Tangerine bars are perfect for some after work drinks or plein air cocktails, Yüka and Le Carpe Diem are great places where to party till dawn.
What is one thing every visitor to Tunisia should experience?
Exploring the empty narrow streets of white-and-blue village of Sidi Bou Said at sunset. A true once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Who is a Tunisian you admire?
All Tunisian women!
What do you wish the world knew about Tunisia?
That it is the only country where you could have a couscous with fish! More seriously, definitely Tunisian cuisine. So underrated, so not well known and yet so surprising with such a potential for creativity! Tunisia is lucky to benefit from a great location that offers a whole range of fresh and healthy products, and offers an original cuisine that is totally worth discovering. You have to try the Tunisian couscous with fish!