The maiden edition of Hijab Fashion Week, designed to empower Muslim women to wear the hijab, was launched in The Gambia on Friday, November 15th.
Fatima Muloshi, the Chief Executive Officer of Hijab Modeling Agency described the event as a historic moment in bringing the hijab into the mainstream.
During the launch, her agency presented a collection of elegant tunics and dresses, in luxurious fabrics and detailed embroidery, all worn with hijabs at the Semaj-Garden in Bijilo.
“I believe fashion is one of the outlets in which we can start that cultural shift in today’s
society to normalize hijab in The Gambia so as to break down stereotypes and demystify misconceptions,” she tells The Chronicle. “This event is a huge leap forward in that direction.”
For Muloshi, women have to make sure what they’re wearing doesn’t attract the attention of men. “The belief is that the essence of Muslim dress is to wear something decent, to be modest, “she said. “We are giving Hijabi’s a platform to have a taste of fashion and the feeling of being a runway model while being modest.”
“Gambian fashion has become more diverse and we’ve become more confident in taking our own way of being modest,” says Isha Sillah, a young Gambian model.
Isha was born and raised in a Muslim family, knowing she would don the hijab once she entered high school. When she was younger, she didn’t give the act much thought. As she got older, however, she began to grasp its meaning, and it became an important part of her personal identity by the time she finished secondary education. While the reason behind why each woman chooses to wear the hijab may vary, for Isha, the main purpose is modesty and to show devotion to God. “The hijab is not a symbol or a statement, but a part of my identity. I am comfortable and confident doing it.”
Meanwhile, on the next steps of the newly launched hijab agency, CEO Muloshi says she’s open to other strategic partnerships. For now, she looks forward to working with more local fashion designers. “The goal is to go global, but we have to keep on doing great locally first.”