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Two Muslim Sisters Design Clothes for Less Layerings

Muslim Sisters Design Clothes
 Mosaic by Ali is a creation of two young Muslim sisters, Saba and Deba, in New Jersey. The sisters became increasingly unhappy about the layers they had to put on to look fashionably forward, modestly chic, and beautifully covered. They decided to design their clothes and market it within the US, as well as the world. We had a chance to talk with them during the ISNA convention in Chicago about their fall collection, and some of their personal favorits in life.

Goltune : Mosaic by Ali. What is it?

Saba:  Well, Ali is our last name, so that part’s easy. Mosaic is representing what mosaics are. We have things that can be worn on different dresses to create a mosaic of your own unique look. So our concept is to have a mixing and matching of items and to have fewer items in your closet that are of high quality and not fast fashion. Just to have fewer, but better. Kind of like the French.


Goltune : Fast Fashion,French style, what do you mean?

Saba: in the US, fast fashion has really picked up. A lot of the lower cost, very trendy clothes, will end up in a closet, full of clothes that don’t last long. So you know, the European way of doing things, you’ll notice it with the French women. They have fewer than maybe 20 items in their closet, but it’s very high end. You can wear it year-after-year, classic styles, and it doesn’t really go out of style very easily.


Goltune: Why is it important to you?

Saba: Well as Muslim women, we’ve always had an issue finding covered clothes that are also chic at the same time. So it really came out of our own desire to have clothing that we could wear, and we wanted…you know, and then, we took it to another level. We wanted to provide a higher level of quality options for those women of all faiths, who may or may not choose to dress conservatively.


Goltune : You think the market does not have high quality clothes for Muslim women?

Saba: I don’t want to say there isn’t high quality, but I think there’s still a gap in the market and we still need to fill it. I don’t think there’s enough options.

If I find a jumpsuit that I like or a dress that I like, I have to layer it. Therefore, it

could kind of erode from the look. You know, so if I put sleeves on something that doesn’t exactly match or leggings with something or a jacket. I don’t want to say taking confidence away, but I want to say that it’s not a cohesive look. So, what we’re trying to help provide is an option that is a polished look which is covered that doesn’t involve any layering.

Goltune : Have you experienced this kind of difficulties Deba?

Deba:  You know, in a social circle, you’re always invited to work-functions or, a non-ethnic function, or a wedding or anything like that. I would spend way too much time at the store looking for a dress that was allowed for me personally. I was tired of layering clothes because a lot of the dresses that you may find at a department store, you have to find a matching bolero or a cardigan. Or it may be too short of a dress and then you have to find ways to alter your dresses. And at the end of the day, it was quite a battle to find clothes that still look fashion forward. Despite all the layering, it was quite a challenge, so it made more sense for us. Why don’t we create beautiful clothes from the beginning that still are halah compliant for us ladies, and I know that I’m not the only one with that struggle.


G : Why do you think a confident women wil / might choose your dress, as you claim it on your website?

Deba: Well, I’d have to say confidence is a very multi-faceted, very dynamic concept and is very personal for each woman. I will say that confidence and clothing or the way you want to communicate yourself to the world can be told with clothes. So, I truly believe that if you choose to take care of yourself in a way of treating yourself to quality items, you are projecting an image about yourself that you are confident and you’re ready for your day. And I hope women find confidence in dressing modestly. I feel that it helps retain some type of identity for yourself, and I hope that our styles and clothes make it easier for women who are looking for this in their life.


Goltune:  How much of “Islamic thinking” goes into your design?

Saba: Our question always is…Is this something that can be worn to a mosque? Is this something that can be worn to a conservative event? Yes, most of these are made to wear to weddings, to, you know, social functions, but we want to ensure that we’re always complying.

Deba:  our fall line is inspired by cosmopolitan lines and, you know, very chic types of silhouettes that we’ve created. We want to have very timeless pieces. That was our goal, and I did feel that we were successful in it and very detail-oriented and we were very meticulous about each stitch. You know, we were very thoughtful about it.

Goltune: Where the idea of design come from?

Deba: The ideas really come from the fantasy wardrobe that I have in my mind. In these designs, you really think about as a designer, you have your dream clients, you know, your dream girls who will wear your clothes.

Goltune: How about the inspiration?

Deba: well my inspiration personally is being able to help the women out there who are just like us, to provide options. We would like to change fashion in a way because everything, right now, everything is about less clothing and women using their sexuality to feel empowered, and we want to change that dynamic. We want to help the women who want to stay covered and still feel empowered to make decisions and create their own destiny.

Saba and Deba personal favors:

Gotluen: What is the best meal you ever had?

Saba: The best meal I’ve ever had, hmmm? So when I was in Dubai last year, I had a really nice steak that came aged from Australia, so to me, that was probably the best meal I’ve had in a long time.

Deba: I think it was maybe when we did a safari ride in Dubai. We did a desert safari. They take you to this lovely camp, and you’re under the stars and you’re one with nature. And they give you this lovely kabab and rice meal. It’s such a simple meal, but it was made so authentically that it really, really added to my experience and to my time in Dubai.

Goltune: You dream vacation?

Saba: Well, I have a dream vacation planned, so I will be going there. So going to the Maldives. It’s below the Middle East.

Deba: I would love to go to Australia. I think that would be a great place to visit for a vacation, for fun. I think they have so much nature and wildlife. They have the coral reef there that, you know, that may be disappearing, maybe I should go visit sooner than later. They have animals that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, and it seems like a really, …very different from where I am today, a difference of real contrast, so that would be real cool to visit.

Goltune: You musical DNA?

Saba: I grew up with all kinds of American music. I’ve grown up listening to Rock, and then, I listened to Rap, Hip-Hop. I actually love Mo Town, which is kind of funny because that’s way before my time. That’s probably one of my favorite types of music. And I also listen to even just some classical sometimes. So, I enjoy a wide range of music from the Western world. I don’t really have much knowledge of Eastern music, but anything in the Western world, I pretty much have a jewel in each category.

Deba: My musical DNA…I must say growing up that I really liked hip hop. I think that was just very popular when I was growing up, and it was, I think I was a casual listener, so I may not have that much of an opinion on it. But hip hop music was really big when I was growing up. Even untill today, I like all types of music.

Goltune: Your bookshelf?

Deba: What’s on my bookshelf? I have a lot of fashion women’s wear daily publications. I have pattern books. I have makeup books. I love makeup. And I also have, of course I have, a lot of women empowerment books, like women warriors, and I do enjoy the Joy Luck Club [book].