In November 2021, Nea Wear finally got the recognition it deserved and was fortunate enough to participate in Dubai Modest Fashion Week alongside 30 other brands. The event was held in Rixos Premium Dubai and was a milestone for our brand, as well as the greatest event we partook in, to date.
Modest Fashion Week is a 3-day annual fashion show that is centred on commemorating and providing recognition to the diversity of the modest fashion industry.
It was founded by Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin, in an attempt to debunk the stigma attached to modesty whilst at the same time highlight the talent of the many modest fashion designers, models, influencers and businesses from around the world with the same concept – modesty and sustainability, which of course, is the focal point of Nea Wear
Continue reading to find out the ins and outs of Modest Fashion Week, our preparation, the collection itself, behind the scenes, and about our experience overall.
Our Collection was interwoven with the theme of the fashion show, ‘Awakening’, with ours specifically being inspired by the Islamic Golden Age. The show theme of awakening relates to the pandemic, in a sense of where the pandemic itself was highly draining, demotivating, and disheartening. There was almost a sense of apathy in the air, a lack of hope due to the rising numbers of deaths, businesses being bankrupt, people losing their jobs, financial crises, and people being forced to isolate from their loved ones. Isolation and social distancing had become the new normalcy, causing a soar in depression and anxiety across the globe. Hence, this collection was based on an awakening, to celebrate coming out of a dark time, where slowly people were regaining hope, faith and most importantly reuniting with the ones they were forced to distant themselves from. In addition, I was adamant to associate this newfound positivity people were slowly relearning as well as light and hope, and this was achieved through embedding bright colours within the collection. The use of bright colours evoked happiness, as well as this hope of starting again and the idea of healing and celebrating life.
Now, onto the details about the collection itself. Like the entirety of our brand is based upon, of course it was crucial that our garments would be made in a way where we are protecting and preserving the environment. Maintaining and preserving the earth is essential in Islam, as we believe Allah made us ‘khalifas’ or viceregents of the earth, so essentially, in layman’s terms, we as Muslims should act as caretakers of the environment. So, this was achieved by utilising upcycled fabric for the most part of our collection. Two of our pieces were made by working with our tailors to transform some of my mother’s old saris into kaftans. Our gold piece was designed with a specific structure whereby we used gold made by a fabric I had found from a factory, and it was then cut, styled, and sent for pleating. This piece was entirely remodelled with a lot of structure and ended up being the star of the show, consequently being featured on social media pages as well as press releases. Another of our dresses had sequins on it, and these were made from recycled plastics which was then turned into sequins and stitched by hand into our gowns with a matching scarf, using left over fabric I found elsewhere. All in all, our garments were made with a lot of thought and love with the use of bright colours such as baby blue to represent the sky, and yellow connoting happiness, joy, and optimism.
the Big Day:
All in all, it took around five to six months to prepare for the big day, this including having to come up with ideas, concepts, designs, the fabrics needed for our garments etc. I also had to go from store to store in search for the perfect fabric for our designs, and once I finally got my hands on t it, I then took these to the tailors and went through the different variations of styles and designs with them to create my garments. Now, moving onto the specifics, when it came to preparing for the show, it was more than just designing garments, every single aspect had to be perfect. It was my job to ensure every single aspect was directed properly, meaning from the accessories to the makeup, to the music, I had to ensure all were interlinked with the theme of the show. For the music side, I wanted something futuristic, and no lyrics, so the dress spoke for itself. I wanted a sound that was clean, cool and computer made but at the same time relating back to the overall concept of hope and the idea of looking forward for what’s to come. Onto the accessories, now since the show was in Dubai, I wanted to emulate that Emirati look. Women in Dubai often wear a lot of gold, and headpieces and I envisioned that exact same look for my models, so I had got some artificial gold head pieces through collabing with a small business. Once everything was ready, and the details were perfected I packed these all up and headed to Dubai, a few days prior to the event. Upon arriving to Dubai, I realised I didn’t have business cards, which were necessary considering there would be major clients and serious networking involved during the show. As our brand is based on sustainability, we decided to print look books with a QR code that scans directly onto our Instagram page and website. This way we were reducing as much waste as possible, to endure we were aligning with our sustainable aim.
Despite the show being days away, we still had a few things to finalise and prep hence why we decided to arrive earlier in Dubai. We had to visit the venue and do a fitting with the models deciding which model should wear which outfit, we then took some pictures, met with the organisers of the events. We met with the choreographer who wanted to rehearse the show with the models without music, so they knew exactly what to do, how to pose and where to stop. For me, it was truly amazing to witness the process of it coming together from the building of the actual stage, which was inspired by the desert. The stage was built and designed with a lot of mirrors, which again ties in with this futuristic idea and a fashion awakening, much like the shows themes as well as our garments too.
Onto the actual show, the fashion show was on the second day around 4pm. The first day gave us the chance to engage in networking, and connect with so many amazing, likeminded, and inspirational individuals. There were also various events throughout the fashion show, including a welcoming event, speeches, and we were fortunate enough to meet various international brands, influencers, and of course speak to the press themselves to promote our brand. When we were speaking to different press representatives and had interviews, I was initially nervous as it was a new experience for me, and my mind was very much occupied with the actual show in itself. To be completely honest, I feel as though I couldn’t truly take in and enjoy the event itself until the second day due to the anxiousness and fear surrounding not knowing how people would react to our garments. Whilst there were workers who dressed the models, I was backstage the entire time, ensuring dresses were worn correctly, accessories were put together correctly, and each model had shoes to their correct size, fit and of course, comfortability was crucial.
When it came to the actual runaway, I was watching from backstage, and it was truly a surreal experience witnessing my designs come to life. The very fact that there were many well-known figures, members of the Dubai royal family also watching and appreciating our work, was a pinch me but at the same time a nail-biting moment. As the founder of Nea Wear, I myself had to walk down the runaway which was very nerve-wracking for me as an introvert. Funnily enough, on the topic of me walking down the runaway and shoes, I completely forgot to remember my own pair, and luckily the founder of Al Hayaa, gave me her heels, a lifesaver! As soon as I walked down the runaway people immediately started cheering and applauding which again, I was speechless, and could not see a thing as it felt like a dream. I knew at that moment, Alhamdullilah my work here is done! There and then I felt immediate ease, the anxiety I was having completely vanished as I came to realisation of all the work, effort, and hard work I put in truly paid off. I knew I had done my utmost best and all my love into the show, and I can finally enjoy the remainder of the event stress-free. I immediately went on the search for my husband, my biggest supporter, to give him the biggest hug in gratitude. For the remainder of the event, we had a booth where we had the chance to expose our designs, different retails came to connect with us as they were interested in our pieces, which was a very good opportunity for our brand to really get us out there, as well as meet interesting people within the modest fashion industry.
We met with Ozlem, the founder of Modest Fashion Week, who was hands down an incredible, humble, and selfless soul, who dedicated her time during the events being there for anyone and everyone. At all times she spent her time ensuring everyone’s needs were met, solving problems if there were any, and at any point in time if there was any issue at all, without a doubt you would find Ozlem there, ready to lend a hand. All in all, it was very, very hectic but at the same time truly exciting to meet highly influential people from the entire modest fashion community. There was a welcoming and positive aura, whereby we did not view one another as competitors but rather a community who were happy, supportive, and helpful to another. The entirety of this experience was incredibly wholesome to say the least and hugely beneficial for our brand in terms of exposure. We are extremely grateful to our Creator for granting us this opportunity for our brand to flourish and be a part of one of the greatest events in the modest fashion industry, ALHAMDULLILLAH! This milestone could not have been reached without Allah at the forefront of our mind (Niyyah) as well as all your support…