raising the style stakes
Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
Emiratesvoice, emirates voice
Emiratesvoice, emirates voice
Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
Emiratesvoice, emirates voice

Fashion may fade

Raising the style stakes

Emiratesvoice, emirates voice

Emiratesvoice, emirates voice Raising the style stakes

Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin
Dubai - Emirates Voice

Fashion may fade, but style is eternal, goes the common adage. Over the last few years, movers and shakers in the industry have proved that modesty is very much a personal style - one that is ever-popular and truly global. Big brands - the likes of Zara and Dolce & Gabbana - have unveiled conservative collections over the past few years, while 'hijabistas' around the world have helped bring modest fashion to the forefront. Just last year saw Somali-American Halima Aden become the first contestant to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. A year before that, Mariah Idrissi was hailed as the 'new face of modest fashion' when she appeared in H&M's Close the Loop campaign. Well, next week, both these extraordinary women will be coming to the UAE for one special reason: the Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW), set to take place 8-9 December. 
This is the first time the Modest Fashion Week will be coming to Dubai, following its two successful editions in Istanbul and London, and there's a lot to look forward to. While modest clothing and hijabs are no longer a rarity on the runway or at fashion weeks, what makes DMFW week stand out is how international it is; the DMFW roster will include 30 fashion shows from five continents. Just as impressive (and international) are its two stylish founders - Özlem Sahin and Franka Soeria. Hailing from Turkey and Indonesia respectively, the ladies have years of experience in the field of fashion and are so in sync that they're often finishing each other's sentences. Excerpts from an interview:

How did you develop a love for modest fashion?
Franka Soeria: I was working as a journalist in Indonesia for years and used to write a lot about modest fashion. After I got married to a Turkish man, and moved to Turkey, I began to get involved in the local fashion scene. And I was surprised because in Southeast Asia, you see modest fashion and the hijabs on a runway quite a bit. But when I moved to Turkey, there was no professional platform for modest fashion. 
Ozlem Sahin: I actually have a background in industrial engineering - but I've always believed that it's a perk to understand everything. With modest fashion being such trending topic, I decided to organise an online hijab show - and it actually reached 300,000 viewers! That was the first touchpoint. So, I began to look at modest fashion as a project.
FS: She's the left side of the brain - the logical side. And I'm the right side, the creative one!

How did you both meet?
FS: When I moved to Turkey, I met Ozlem. We were both working separately but often on similar projects and got along well. So, we decided to start a company together - and our consultancy firm ThinkFashion was born.
OS: I think we knew each other for about five years before we started working together, so we were friends. And to be honest, I'm a hard worker, and it's always hard to find the right work partner. but then I met Franka and I realised that she's just as crazy as I am! We don't ever fight and there's absolutely no drama. We have the same views and ethics. We are easy-going people. 

What made you start the Modest Fashion Week?
OS: When you look at the numbers, you'll realise that there is a huge market for modest fashion worldwide. Turkey is one of the biggest markets, but there was nothing happening in the fashion scene. We wanted to take modest fashion to a whole new level. We wanted people to see it in a proper way, not just in bazaars!
FS: Like I said, in Southeast Asia, there is a lot of innovation in the field of modest fashion, but after I left, I realised that no one knew much about it. We wanted to create a platform to help people see and get to know each other. To really understand what modest fashion is, and to realise that it is just as good as mainstream fashion. 

Do you think modest fashion is becoming more mainstream?
OS: Definitely. Even global brands are changing to cater to audiences worldwide. Today, when you enter a shop, chances are you'll find a modest collection somewhere. In the past, we've been used to seeing modest fashion in only one way but people are realising that there are different facets to it. 

What can we hope to find at the Dubai Modest Fashion Week?
OS: This is a project we've been working on for more than a year. We have participants from more than 30 countries, from Asia to Europe to America. Other than fashion shows, there is going to be a lot of workshops and talks. We want this to be a truly international showcase, and the UAE is an open, supportive country with a lot of diversity, which makes it a perfect venue. 
FS: We hope the Modest Fashion Week only gets better in the years to come, but this is a nice start. 

What are your plans for the future?
FS: We're already looking at other locations for Modest Fashion Week. Right now, we have offers from countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia but it also depends on our partners and collaborations. One thing is for sure - Dubai, Istanbul and Jakarta are key markets and we want to be in these places. We definitely have plans to return to Dubai. 
OZ: Franka comes from Indonesia and I am from Turkey but we work together and it is important to us that all countries that are a part of this event are treated the same. We want it to be a truly international showcase. If you go to Asia, you'll find modest fashion has a lot of colour. In Europe, it is sportier, with natural fabrics. Every region has its own culture and elements and we want to highlight all styles of modest fashion

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