Ahead of Dubai’s second Modest Fashion Week, Co-Founders Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin, speak to MOJEH about the topic and on what to expect…
Modest Fashion Week will be returning to the Middle East for a second show in Dubai, coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8.
Proving to be an instant success after debut runs in Istanbul, London and Jakarta, Modest Fashion Week has become a look-forward-to event on the region’s social calendar – and with good cause.
The concept was first spearheaded by two self-funded entrepreneurs, Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin, who changed the industry with a simple vision. In a marathon of continuous efforts to address the gap of modest fashion in the market, the duo launched their own company. Aptly titled Think Fashion, their business caters to creating solutions for the modest fashion industry worldwide.
Ahead of the Dubai edition, which opens on March 7, and runs till March 9, Soeria and Sahin spoke to MOJEH about the industry, how fashion and activism go hand in hand, and what to expect from Dubai’s second Modest Fashion Week…
Why did you decide that you wanted to bring modest fashion to an international audience?
F: Modest fashion has been around for a long time. We analysed this fact, and realised that there were no global platforms or events that united all [of that] and presented it properly to the world. So, we decided, why don’t we be the ones who do that? And we did!
O: Modest fashion didn’t get the recognition it deserved. We represent the industry properly, and make world-class events that catch the mainstream attention. Now, we manage to help designers and talents to be known globally.
Since Modest Fashion Week launched in 2016, how has it changed since its inception?
F: It has evolved from an event to a solution. We offer a complete package; from events to providing and selling channels online or offline worldwide, and with different initiatives.
O: We are honoured to be trusted so much by all stakeholders – the designers, brands, influencers, buyers and entrepreneurs of modest fashion. That is why our focus is always to create solutions for the industry and be the gateway for global relations. Their trust is so precious to us.
Coinciding with International Women’s Day this year, what are your thoughts on how modest wear can empower women across the globe?
F: Now, women are free to define their own beauty standards. There was once a pressure for women; they [the industry] said that if you want to look pretty, you need to show and expose your body more. Modest fashion allows women to have control. They have redefined new beauty through modest fashion. It’s liberating. It’s empowering to know that women now have a choice!
O: The highlight of this year’s DMFW event is International Women’s Day and Fashion for Good. Franka and I are self-funded female entrepreneurs. We have been working hard non-stop on this since 2016, from one city to another. With this event, we want to celebrate the strength of women and appreciate all women’s achievements worldwide. There are so many strong women in modest fashion that deserve to be celebrated.
In your opinion, how do fashion and activism go hand in hand?
F: We believe that fashion has to be inclusive. We believe that everybody should have some opportunity to live and experience fashion. For us, through Fashion for Good, we have been supporting People of Determination to enter the fashion industry.
O: Our happiest moments are when people tell us that they are inspired by us. It is amazing to hear how our projects are empowering them to do the same. Our ‘Dream and Design for Disabilities’ project started in Jakarta and inspired a designer in Abu Dhabi. Now, it’s snowballing. We can honestly give back, and to do good for others. We hope we can always continue that vision in the future.
How important was it for you to highlight the importance of the region with the growing movement of modest fashion?
F: We choose our cities carefully, and when we choose a city, we believe in the potential of modest fashion in that city. When we come, we want to highlight the local talents, companies and initiatives there. In this edition, we are happy to have Dubai’s amazing modest brands including Dulce by Safiya, My Kaftan, DXB Tailored and JG Couture. We also have the incredible Amato Couture joining us.
O: It is also important to choose partners who contribute good things to society. We’re happy to have local partners who create ethical and artisan products – this year, we are working with Balmessence, Blu Chocolate, Shea Global and Anfasic Dokhoon, Crochet Flowers and many others who share that working for good ethical practice.
How would you describe modest fashion in one sentence?
F: It’s an empowering style of fashion.
O: It’s a choice!
What can we expect from this year’s edition of Dubai Modest Fashion Week?
F: Diversity, inclusivity and good initiatives in fashion, together with modest fashion enthusiasts from 35 countries! It’s literally an Olympic-standard state of style on the runway, a chance to show each country translates modesty in their own perspective. As well as all the runway shows, we have lots of other interactive events, including workshops and talk shows to take part in.
O: Expect to meet buyers, designers and industry professionals who are in modest fashion or want to tap into modest fashion. Also, expect to see genuine warmth and support for all involved as we try to do more to make the world a better place through fashion!
Dubai Modest Fashion Week takes place from March 7, 8 and 9 at miX BY Alain Ducasse, Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, Palm Jumeirah. You can register to attend for free at modestfashionweeks.com.