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A New Kind of Hit: NoiseRecords’ AR Merch is Literally Making Noise

Launched and designed in collaboration with Cairo-based apparel label Brown Toast, NoiseRecords’ Genesis sweatshirt is 75% Cotton, 25% Polyester, and 100% effin’ cool.

Ziyad El-Helbawy

A New Kind of Hit: NoiseRecords’ AR Merch is Literally Making Noise

Bringing music to life through emerging technologies, SceneNoise’s own label NoiseRecords is pushing the boundaries of just what constitutes ‘noise’. Collaborating with Cairo-based lifestyle apparel label Brown Toast, NoiseRecords has dropped its first piece of merch, a sweatshirt dubbed Manshaa’ [Genesis] echoing the name of the record label’s first release. Featuring stamps representing all the MENA regions’ countries, the Augmented Reality sweatshirt symbolises the unity the label so fervently champions.

But it's what lies beneath the surface that makes one heck of a statement: by scanning the label’s QR code and pointing a camera at the globe graphic, wearers can unlock a sensory experience of exclusive tracks and animated visuals from NoiseRecords’ repertoire of rising stars.

“Multiple things actually resonated with us. First off, NoiseRecords’ mission is to shed light on the artists in the region,” Lara Riad, co-founder of Brown Toast, tells SceneStyled. “Because from the moment we started Brown Toast, one of our main pillars was to shed light on artists and creatives, locally and in the region."

Echoing the sentiment of unity and creativity, Timmy Mowafi, founder of SceneNoise and NoiseRecords, sheds light on the inception of this collaboration, stating, "Brown Toast is not afraid to experiment and produce inventive items that go against the grain of the current streetwear zeitgeist in Egypt, but still stylistically relevant. NoiseRecords, at its core, aims to champion not just cross-cultural collaborations but also cross-discipline creativity, so in that way, I felt we share the same ethos.”

The inaugural apparel drop serves up several statements with customised stamps representing each country in the Middle East and North Africa. "The custom calligraphic stamps for every country in the region are an ode to the struggle and triumph every artist in the region goes through to turn their dreams into a reality," Mowafi explains. Further, the inscription, ‘GEOGRAPHY NEED NOT BE DESTINY’, challenges oppressive narratives, symbolising a beacon of hope and resilience for artists across the region.

But the most striking aspect of the drop is undoubtedly its unique augmented reality experience, allowing its wearer - and those in their vicinity -  to scan the NoiseRecords globe icon and unlock augmented reality animations and exclusive music tracks. "The idea was to find a way to reward fans and followers of the label’s releases and to bring them closer to the artists and music that they love," Mowafi says. This fusion of physical and digital realms not only enhances the fan experience but also epitomises the label's commitment to pushing boundaries, the label’s raison d’etre.

Not an easy feat to say the least, crafting the sweatshirt presented several challenges. “The trickiest part with integrating the AR feature was making sure that the printing of the AR globe on the chest and embroidery of the QR code on the tag were absolutely flawless,” Riad shares. “We couldn’t afford having one stitch in the QR code or one line in the print being a millimetre off. The AR technology scans every line and every edge of those designs and if anything is even remotely off it won’t work.”

Moreover, the launch of the label’s apparel resonates deeply with both Brown Toast’s mission to spotlight local and regional creatives, and NoiseRecords' mission to uplift aspiring musicians across MENA. "I think it's rare that a new independent label would produce merchandise for up and coming artists’ singles, but the format of being able to transform one piece of merch into personalised paraphernalia for several artists means that these artists could engage with their fans outside of the digital and streaming realm," Mowafi says.

Additionally, in a display of solidarity, all profits from the merch sales will support Palestine Red Crescent Society amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis and Israeli aggression in Palestine.

Setting the scene for upcoming collaborations, Mowafi offers a glimpse into what lies ahead, teasing, "Given the popularity of the release so far we’re looking into a restock of the ‘Manshaa’ sweater perhaps in different colorways, along with t-shirts as well. I definitely envision working with Brown Toast for more merch collections based on upcoming music releases, that will make people go ‘woah’."


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