Smart, Ethical, Fabulous! What more can a fashionista want!
“In the Veil I am seen, and without it, I am hidden”
The Islamic Finance and Ethics Society is a student led consortium committed to exploring alternative and ethical methods of finance and economics. The society is partnered across four universities - The London School of Economics, King's College London, SOAS, and Cass Business School.
Maleeha Masood, a member of the society and the main event organiser, put together the Muslim Vogue event in an attempt to stir up the conversation about muslim fashion and sustainability. “Modest fashion industry is on the rise and I feel like issues regarding sustainability and ethics need to be discussed early on. To help the industry to flourish, it must be done in a way that is truly representative of Islamic principles and not just a rebranded version of the current market offerings of fast fashion.” She says smiling away as she effortlessly navigates through the venue, stopping here and there to double check things and addresses issues. A lady boss in the making if you ask me.
Well, she definitely brought the conversation to the table, and she brought it good! I'll have to confess, I always find I'm skeptical when it comes to muslim fashion events, but the organisers did a fantastic job and I was absolutely blown away.The team put together an event that promoted ethical fashion while also intellectually engaging the audience.
I found the stalls interesting, all the designers were ethical and provided high quality products. My favourite was Needle Town (@needletwn), and yes you guessed it! hand embroidered items! their products ranged from makeup bags to tote bags! One would not have such patience for such things, but I was delighted to see they did.
Other designers were Juta Shoes (@jutashoes), beautifully crafted works of art for your feet, you can tell that so much love goes into making their products from the detailed crafting. Nakshi Creates (@nakshi.stich) a creator of beautifully intricate scarves. The urban cool fashion house Fringadine (@fringadine) were also featured along with their signature hat.
(Images from brand websites and instagram)
The panel was chaired by Amena Amer, a PhD candidate at London School of Economics, where she studies in the department of psychology, a gorgeous and intelligent woman with truly though invoking ideas. She introduced the panel members which consisted of; Alia Khan, chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council, Prof Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at London College of Fashion and author of “Muslim Fashion: Contemporary style Cultures”, Nafisa Bakkar, co-founder of amalia.com, and last but not least, Zinia, first islamic ethical designer in the UK.
Alia Khan started by defining the world changing movement that is “Islamic fashion”, or like some prefer to call it, modest fashion. “Islamic fashion is the ultimate disruptive model, it came along and said we don’t compromise in our self respect and values, and yet, we are just as cool, elegant , and trendy as anyone. We did fashion with our rules, and if you want in, you have to play by our rules. And they did” This had already set the tone for the rest of the evening, from here on, the rest of the panel continued to define and explore the cultural explosion that is modest fashion from an economic point of view and its effects on mainstream fashion. To complement the discussion of identity and uniqueness, Nafisa stressed the importance of owning our fashion and representing ourselves culturally “We are still trying to figure out how our British identities co- exist with our muslim identities” that was before the first wave of modest fashion arrived she explains “We are going to solve our own problems and represent ourselves” From there, the market continued to expand and became the mammoth it is today.
Zinia brought the subject of ethical fashion to the table, she spoke passionately about the effect of modest fashion on the environment and the inhumane conditions factory workers work in. “Modesty isn’t just how you wear your clothes, it is where the clothes come from. We need to look at fair-trade garments and the environmental effects these garments have” She concluded her talk by urging us to think about what we buy “Do we want modest fashion to be based on fast fashion, or do we want it based on ethics and our value” when asked about her advice to budding designers, she replied “Be more God conscious”
Prof Reina was the final speakers, she proceeded to talk about how muslim and modest fashion evolved “Fashion is constantly changing, and there are so many different ways women respond in the way they dress, to the verses in the Qura’an , social impact, their community, their family and world expectation. There are many different styles and ways women are covering” She continued “It is also striking that the way muslim fashion developed, it developed as both commerce and commentary due the political and social discussions it brought with it”
The panel closed with a Q&A segment, it was interesting to see the engagement from audience and the controversial question arising. One audience member commented referencing Dinatokio’s “breaking stereotype” youtube advert “It feels like muslim women can no longer walk out the door without feeling the she needs to be breaking stereotypes or making a statement or claiming her space, which she has already done” to which Alia Khan responded that without the movement, aided by the internet, no one was willing to acknowledge us and acknowledge the need to feel normal “There is still work to do, but the work done so far is important"
If you would like to watch the recording to the event, click the link below