A modest streetwear brand for Muslim women launched within the fashion market on Feb. 20. The brand Seek Refuge is the first of its kind, according to Vogue, and was created with the goal of empowering Muslim women to represent their culture and religion in a fashionable manner.
“Nothing really fit the style of the fashion-forward Muslim girl, or expressed Islamic culture beyond the hijab,” Shazia Ijaz, founder of Seek Refuge, says.
Ijaz, 25, was inspired to start the line because she says she felt all modest clothes were too girly. She wanted to wear clothing that was edgy and sophisticated, but did not see anything of the sort within the fashion industry.
She is a Pakistani-American from Dearborn, Michigan who worked at Poshmark, a Silicon Valley fashion-tech startup, after graduating college.
Ijaz says it was difficult for her to work normal business hours after suffering multiple concussions from horseback riding. Seek Refuge was a result of her want to create her own path, her passion for fashion, and her desire to make a difference in today’s divisive political climate.
The brand’s first official line made its debut with four pieces, including black and white graphic tees, an oversized hoodie, and a denim jacket.
Every piece combines Islamic aesthetics and American styles.
A photo of a woman sitting against the San Francisco skyline is printed on the t-shirts. She is wearing a kameez, a traditional long tunic worn by females of the Indian subcontinent. The sleeves of the tees are mesh and surrounded by a bold black or white band.
The oversized hoodie resembles the shape of a cape and has the phrase “No Nazr” written across it, which is meant to keep off the evil eye, according to Islamic teachings. It is composed of a cotton fleece blend and signature long bell sleeves.
The light denim used for the jacket was carefully selected from Turkey. The piece also contains branded vintage copper buttons and intentional distressing. The Arabic script it is covered in is a poem that was written by a Syrian refugee.
Once we were at least happy. There once was peace where we resided
In our land of birth; our homeland. We never anticipated this
That war would tear us apart and leave us miserable this way
We witnessed so powerlessly our brothers and sisters brutalized
Our homes and properties burnt, and then came our displacement
We have hopes but in despair. We cried peace but in bloodshed
That oh, we’d better seek refuge. We ran for our dear lives
Hunting for safety across the borders our dreams seem direly shattered
As we seek for a new homeland, in a land where no one wants us.
By utilizing an ethical supply chain, Seek Refuge is making itself a part of the fight to end fast fashion. Its products are manufactured from Istanbul, Turkey in factories that help create jobs for refugees and are Sedex certified, according to Indiegogo.
The brand’s impact goes beyond clothes as at least 10 percent of its proceeds will be donated to Humanity First, an organization that is working with two schools in Jordan to teach Syrian refugee children.
Ijaz proves fashion is more than the clothes people wear. It is a lifestyle, form of expression, and medium for activism.
Cover Image via Vogue
Also published on Medium.