Modest fashion is a trending topic not only in the region but everywhere. Today we will speak about modest fashion with Alia Khan, president, and founder of IFDC which stands for Islamic Fashion & Design Council. She is also going to share her journey creating the council and how they are helping designers and other industry players succeed.
Have a listen to the interview here.
ABOUT ALIA KHAN
Originally from Pakistan, Alia Khan grew up in California. She moved to Dubai in 2005 to be closer to her family. At that time, she had a media company that created content for huge companies like Procter & Gamble. You can tell she knows how to express her thoughts and ideas when listening to her in the interview!
Eventually, she realized there was a huge demand and an even bigger gap in modest fashion and Islamic design. That is how the idea of a starting at fashion and design council came to life.
WHAT IS MODEST FASHION?
IFDC is not a religious body so the criterium is not something they will impose on anybody. Alia Khan explains that it is a matter of personal interpretation but there are some general guidelines.
• Clothes that are not too revealing
• Clothes that are loose-fitting
• That have an appropriate neckline and no open backs
• The sleeves should cover their arm up to the wrists
• The length of the dress or skirt should reach the ankles
• And the hijab
TALKING ABOUT THE HIJAB
Probably the most controversial piece of modest dressing, the hijab is more than just a piece of cloth. Alia shares with us what is behind it. “Not everybody is ready to follow it and they are many different ways to wear a hijab”.
Hijab means partition, veil, something that protects you from something… in this case, evil. But they are many different hijabs.
If you put a hijab in your tongue, you should not say bad things about people. Should you put a hijab in your eyes or in your mind, you should see the positives and not the negatives in people or situations. If you have a hijab in your heart, you wouldn’t harm anyone and try to be good, well-intentioned, and fair. All these hijabs come before the cloth over your head. It is a personal commitment to your beliefs.
I must admit that this romantic way to explain what the hijab is, resonates more with me. Of course, in the podcast, we spoke about how the hijab is seen in other places as something imposed. Not a choice. IFDC is trying to change the narrative. Hijab is a personal choice and it doesn’t necessary correlates with any sort of repression. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but to focus on the exceptions is what is damaging how everyone else wearing a hijab is perceived.
ABOUT THE IFDC FIRST EVENT: PRET- A- COVER BUYERS LANE
The event that took place at City Walk took Alia and her team good 10 months to put together.
“It took this long because it was the first event we were doing and because we wanted to do something original and never seen before”.
And so, they did! The catwalk didn’t have models, but rather projections of each and every designer showcasing. This way not only the clothes but also the vibe and energy, the story or the inspiration were part of the experience. 15 LED screens, water screens, and around 20-25 projectors did the job. Not sure if it was easier than having the models doing the walk but definitely it was a different and unique concept, we might see more of.
The sponsors seemed to be very happy and IFDC managed to get more sponsors interested in participating in the coming events.
Pret-a- cover displayed the collections of 35 designers. You can read here our review of the event, but we can tell you that there was a lot of talent and enthusiasm. You met Shahd from Blue meets Blue in our previous podcast interview. Check it out here to refresh and see fashion from a different angle.
The Islamic Fashion & Design Council is offering mentorship, education, and quality events where all the industry players come together. Alia explained to us what makes them different from Arab Fashion Council or from DDFC (Dubai Design & Fashion Council). Arab Fashion Council is interested in the region as such, not particularly in modest fashion designers. DDFC is focused on talent growing and being developed in Dubai, especially locals and again not necessarily focusing only on modest fashion designers. The gap is where IFDC sits and rules.
I asked Alia why then maybe not call the council Modest Fashion Council and she explains. “Modest as a concept is difficult to define. It is subjective. What is considered modest in California is not the same as in this region. So as a term, it was not global enough. I decided to call it Islamic because the primary market of modest fashion is being driven by the growing Muslim population and they are driven by the Islamic guidelines for fashion”.
If you want to join the council, it is free to do it for now. In the future, there will be some tiered programs with benefits for members.
Alia Khan, for example, is working to put together some pop-up schools where fashion professionals would come, teach and share their experiences. She is aiming really high to top designers like Dolce & Gabbana. Why pop up schools? Because we barely have time, especially if you consider taking a full year away from your brand and because it will be a very practical approach, hands-on learning. Also, because like this, it will give her the possibility to cater to the different destinations depending on the needs.
THE NEXT BIG MARKETS FOR MODEST FASHION
Of course, Malaysia has been there for quite some time, and they have an amazing market. Similarly, we find the UAE and the rest of the Gulf States. But according to Alia, the really interesting upcoming markets for modest fashion are Pakistan, Italy (with a growing population of Muslims and an already stable Catholic crowd) and Australia. Who would have thought!
If you want to learn more from IFDC or Alia, check the website or send her an email. But before, relax, get your headphones, and listen to this super interesting interview from Dubai Fashion News Podcast.
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