Wedad Amiri was going to a lot of weddings and it was costing a lot of money.
“It was so hard to find a full-length dress with sleeves and fully lined,” she explains.
So, she created her own fashion line. Four years later, Edmonton’s Afflatus Hijab has customers all over the world.
“I’ve sold to Europe, the Middle East, throughout the U.S. and all over Canada,” says the young designer.
Amiri, a Muslim Edmontonian, wears a hijab and modest clothing. Like many other Canadians, she also wants to be stylish. Now the fashion world is taking note of her work.
Afflatus Hijab will be featured on the runway at Maarkah New York Fashion Week on Sept. 10. The event website puts Amiri in good company, proclaiming: “An elite selection of international celebrity designers from across the world will present their exquisite new haute-couture and Modest collections.”
It’s about more than fashion
Amiri has named some of her pieces after women suffering from mental illness. She uses the example of a long, sleeveless red vest called the Nakita Valerio.
Valerio is an Edmonton writer and social advocate who holds a master’s degree and is on the executive of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council. Her struggle with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and C-PTSD is detailed on the Afflatus Hijab website, along with this advice: “You are resilient. You are still here. See how incredible you are, according to your own development.”
The “Nakita Valerio” vest from the Canadian fashion line Afflatus Hijab. This piece is from part of the line designed to highlight mental health, and reduce the stigma around mental illness.
“She helped a lot of people with her story,” says Amiri
Other pieces are named after women dealing with bipolar disorder and anxiety. Each has a story. So too do the women that earlier pieces are named for, Indigenous and Muslim women who Amiri considers trailblazers.
“There’s this narrative that we have no rights, we’re oppressed and all of this,” she says.
“So I wanted to change the narrative and show Muslim women are doing great things in society.”
These are women like Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim legislatorin the U.S., and Doaa Elghobashy, an Olympian from Egypt who garnered global praise after competing in beach volleyball in her hijab.
“It’s been pretty amazing.
We’re a small business here in Edmonton and it’s interesting to see that people from around the world come to see my clothing line on my website.”