With over 200 million Muslim women living in Africa today, plus a whole lot more throughout the diaspora, there is a huge amount of creativity happening in the modest fashion market. The decision to include modest fashion on the Saatchi Gallery catwalk during London Fashion Week marks a first for those who want to combine style with demure – to look amazing without feeling the need to shout about it. Roda Abdi is one of the modest fashion movement’s brightest stars, so we took the opportunity to catch up with her at the event.
Although Roda’s background is Somalian, she spent her formative years in Kenya. The fact that her parents ran a clothing store helped build her passion for fashion and Roda really enjoyed dressing up as a child. She quickly progressed from wearing to designing (something her mother has inspired her to do) and has now been promoting her own brand, Amirab, for over a year. On a professional level, she is enamored with the designs of Mugler and Ralph Lauren.
So what are the most important considerations for a designer of modest fashions?
“The design”, Roda explained. “Making sure length of the clothes is appropriate, not sheer, and no slits or cuts which would make the clothes unsuitable for modest wear”.
“We design and produce premiere products that empower professional Muslim women. Our main focus is to provide high-end pieces that are versatile and can be worn to any occasion”.
Simple enough. So which of her own designs does Roda love most and which shows have been the most important?
“The Muni jumpsuit – it’s versatile and can be worn from day to night. I style mine with black stilettos and one Amirab’s patterned silk scarves”, said Roda. “I’m very excited about London Modest Fashion Week and loved showing my range at the Qatar Fashion Show recently”.
Amirab’s clothing is clearly of a very high standard, but every designer improves over time. We asked Roda where she thought she might be in 5 years time.
“We’d love to see our clothes are available globally and have our first flagship boutique in Africa”, she told us. Is her ambition solely business based? Does she have ambitions outside of pure fashion? It certainly seems so, “I currently do mentoring with global forum thinkers and currently mentoring a young girl from Ethiopia”.
“From a business perspective, I would love to work with Lewis Hamilton. He is determined, focused, knows what he wants and has achieved so much in his career”
What is the potential for modest clothing, outside of Muslim countries? For example in the UK.
“Already some of the high street chains, like Debenhams, are starting to stock modest clothes”, said Roda. “I believe in the next 4-5 years this will be norm”.
Her latest collection is available for pre-order on Amirab, here.
Finally, on a personal level, we wanted to know what her ‘go to’ fashion item was, about her favourite food, drink and music as well as her plans for travelling in the future, who she would most like to meet and where she would live, if she could live anywhere.
“I love a beautifully tailored dress and while I’m not really into music, I do love pilau and tea”, she said. “In terms of travel, I really want to tour Asia. I will never meet my true hero, Nelson Mandela, but I do plan to settle in Somalia at some point in the future”.
Any final words for budding young designers?
“You can be whoever you want, just be committed and persistent!”.
The Modest Fashion Week London event is on at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY until close of business on Sunday 19th February 2017. The nearest station, Sloane Square, is a short walk away. We encourage all fashion lovers to get down there and be inspired!