Co-written by Aya Khalil and Marwa Abdulhai.
We have had the honor of working with Eman Idil Bare at Muslim Girl for more than a year now. Not only are her articles always thought-provoking and informative, but she is a also a journalist, a yoga instructor and a talented fashion designer. She is basically goals. So when we found out that her new line is coming out this month, we both fought about who will interview her about it. Just kidding. Kind of. So we both decided to interview her because we love her so much. Read our interview with her below and check out her website and also her Instagram, if you prefer. Her Instagram feed is on point.
Muslim Girl: What is your full name, location and occupation?
Eman Bare: Eman Idil Bare, Toronto Ontario, Journalist/Yoga Teacher/Fashion Designer
When did you start your own fashion line, Eman Idil Designs? When will you re-launch?
The relaunch [is] March 15th. I first launched my clothing line April 30, 2015! So, almost a year ago. The brand itself though has been something I’ve been working on for the last 10 years. For real, I tried designing our school uniform at the private school i went it.
There are tons of modest-friendly websites nowadays. What makes your fashion line unique?
I don’t think “modest” fashion means wearing abayas and dresses, which is what most modest fashion brands out there are producing. I’m a woman with a career, and there is no way I’d be able to wear an abaya when I’m on TV (as cool as my employers are). I wanted to design clothing for all women, because modesty and fashion are not two separate things. You can create modest fashion that’s inclusive of everyone.
I think a lot of people go into fashion because they like clothing, or style or want to own a business and see fashion as being the easiest (surprise, it isn’t). But I went into fashion because I wanted to change the world. Full stop. When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I had a thousand different answers but the core was that I wanted to make waves in the world. I chose fashion and journalism as my tool to do that because of my love for storytelling and because of how limitless the potential in the fashion industry is.
Imagine if everything you bought helped make the world a better place. That’s sounds crazy, but it’s so possible. It starts by knowing you who are buying from. I have shopped local since I was a kid, mostly because my dad owned small businesses. And as I got older, I started to ask myself how we were impacting the people who manufactured the items we were purchasing. We’ve all seen the “Made in Bangladesh” stickers, but what does that MEAN? Are these people happy? Were they paid fair wages? Did they own their own stores? I’ve always been a journalist, so the questions came naturally and I cringed when i found out the truth. Our lives were having rippling effects on people whose faces we would never see. As a Muslim, Islam teaches us to pay charity. And so it made zero sense to me that the same Muslims who would bend over back to donate would also be living lives that indirectly exploited the people they were donating to.
You often talk about how your pieces have stories behind them. Please explain how you tell stories through your fashion line.
After the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, I knew that I needed to build a brand that focused on empowering communities by give them safe and fair employment. And so the reason it took me this long to launch my label is because I wanted to tell the stories of the people I worked with. Each piece I sell tells the story of the person who made the garment. Because we’re all in this world together, and you cannot other or vilify someone when you know their personal story. As a journalist, it made perfect sense for me to bring storytelling into my brand. What if we knew the stories of the 7-year-old who made our favourite Forever 21 jeans? Would we still buy them? Probably not. The problem with sweatshops and fast fashion is we don’t know how damaging it really is. I wanted to change that through storytelling.
What are some unique pieces coming out from the spring/summer line?
This is my first line that was designed overseas. It was made by women in Malaysia (that I’ve interviewed and chat with daily) and in a souk in Morocco.
I have a pair of flats with a bow on them that I am so excited to show. They are basically the shoes of my dreams.
What motivated you to start your own fashion line? What first got you interested in fashion in general?
I wanted to make sweatshop-free fashion the norm. It is INSANE to me that as Muslims, as people with a conscience, we can buy garments that are destroying communities (and the environment).
Fashion is my art. We live in a visual society and how you dress and carry yourself speaks volumes before introductions are made. And I’ve always wanted to design clothing that made even the shyest most introverted woman feel like a powerhouse.
Who are your style icons?
My mama! The woman is a grandma and she still stunts so hard.
What is your favorite item on your line and why?
Capes, because I feel like a queen. And my turbans, for the same reason.
What do you see in the future of your fashion line? Where do you see it in five years?
I want to own my on factory in East Africa that works specifically with women. I want to create a safe space, that pays them the wages they need to live happy and healthy lives. I also want to attach a school to the factory, so that women do not need to chose between being employed and caring for their children.
Check out her website to see the beautiful designs. We pray that this is a successful endeavor and insh’Allah it will be an amazing launch for you! We love you!