Muslim Women Are Calling Out Dubai's Modest Fashion Week For A Lack Of Diversity
"Black Muslim women in fashion never have a seat at the table they created."
Earlier this month Dubai held a Modest Fashion Week (DMFW).
And people were concerned about the lack of representation.
And more specifically, why some high-profile black women weren't at the fashion week.
BuzzFeed News understands that the event had two black guests listed on their website, Halima Aden and Muna Jama.
Hodhen Liaden, creator of @DarkSkinnedHijabis, told BuzzFeed News that she doesn't think DMFW was inclusive.
She said: "So let me start with some facts, 34 brands were invited and one was a dark-skinned woman, the shocking ratio is the same for the ‘special guests’: 40 women were invited, consisting mainly of bloggers, and one was a dark-skinned woman, that being Halima Aden of course."
Najwa Umran, a 20-year-old producer and creative from London, told BuzzFeed News she created a hashtag to celebrate, empower, and reaffirm the validation in black Muslim bloggers.
Umran said the hashtag was about people coming together to change the narrative.
Halssaa, a blogger based in the UK, said that she loves how people are using the #BlackMuslimahExcellence hashtag.
And blogger Shahd Batal posted a video where she said it was "very clear" that the event lacked diversity.
Umran continued: "It makes me really happy to see big influencers and fashion bloggers supporting one another in an industry that seems to divide and make people compete."
People have also been responding by posting compilations of their favourite black Muslim women on social media.
DMFW organiser Think Fashion said it denied claims the event deliberately excluded women of colour.
In a statement it said: “From the outset, we sought to make DMFW warm and welcoming for all participants, and to ensure the broadest possible representation. When it comes to who we invite to participate, a person’s skin colour never enters into consideration.”
It said that in terms of diversity at DMFW, 75% were women of colour and of those, 15 were black. Think Fashion also said that it had invited more than 20 black designers but only two attended.
“To therefore claim DMFW sought to exclude influential women of colour, and specifically black women or those of darker skin tones is patently untrue. We truly tried our best," the statement added.
“Women of colour are a vital part of fashion, as they are of the wider world. It would be unthinkable and stupid for any organisation in 2017/2018 to ignore or deliberately sideline them as creatives, taste-makers and consumers."
In a statement, DMFW sponsor Modanisa said it took the issue of diversity "very seriously".
Its full statement said: "As a global business, our core philosophy from the outset has been to bring the lovers of modest fashion together under one roof, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, faiths, body shapes or skin tones. This extends to our staff, events and social responsibility projects, such as Just Like You, which has been viewed nearly 2 million times and includes an African-American in the role of a police officer with her daughter.
"The icons we work with also reinforce the importance we attach to diversity. Halima Aden, for example, has headlined Modanisa’s last two Modest Fashion Weeks in London and Dubai.
"As the name sponsor of Dubai Modest Fashion Week, we are saddened by the allegations of colourism levelled at the event and have discussed these at length with the organiser Think Fashion. They are best placed to respond to media questions concerning which guests attended.
"Being involved behind the scenes, we know all parties – the organisers, sponsors, event partners and many others – worked very hard to make Dubai Modest Fashion Week a big success. Think Fashion went to considerable lengths to make the event as inclusive and representative as possible, from the casting of the models, to the designers showcasing on the catwalk, and special guests invited to the panel discussions.
"The event wanted to welcome as many diverse people as possible. It was marketed to both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences in Dubai and abroad, and the free admission policy encouraged members of the public to attend – hundreds did!
"For those of us present, Dubai’s first Modest Fashion Week was full of brilliant moments and achievements, and it is sad if all of these were overlooked. Modest Fashion Weeks play a vital role in evolving the industry and propelling it into the mainstream. In Dubai, designers from 20 different countries came together to showcase their collections. The cultural interactivity between them, the producers and visitors was truly inspirational.
"Could there be improvements? Absolutely! All the event partners have taken on board the feedback about Dubai Modest Fashion Week. The event team will learn, grow and be stronger for it. On the issues of community and diversity, Modanisa remains intent on being an agent of change for the better. Our global Sisterhood project is perhaps the best reflection of that. It was this vision that led us to bring two top models, Halima Aden and Tülin Şahin, to Dubai. As they jointly stated there, 'The world needs all of us to be less judgmental. We should be embracing each other, not labelling and pushing people away just because they are different to us.'"