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This modest-fashion designer is channelling Kanye West to create ethical sportswear
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This modest-fashion designer is channelling Kanye West to create ethical sportswear

This modest-fashion designer is channelling Kanye West to create ethical sportswear
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Yasmin Sobeih, the British-Egyptian founder of Under-Rapt. Photo courtesy of Under-Rapt.

If you’re a modest-fashion designer looking for a muse, Kanye West is probably not one of your top picks. Yet up-and-coming British modest-fashion label Under-Rapt draws on the controversial rapper’s fashion brand Yeezy as one of its design influences. 

“I’m inspired by brands like Kanye’s … a lot of the oversized trends in his ranges are applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Yasmin Sobeih, the British-Egyptian founder of Under-Rapt. “There is a huge market for fashion-led sportswear.”

The Manchester-born designer says that there is a particular growing demand for sustainable eco-sportswear.

“Nike doesn’t do it. No one does it. There is hardly any fashion-led, eco-friendly sportswear for the market or the Muslim market,” she said.

Armed with a master’s degree from the London College of Fashion, Yasmin created Under-Rapt as a trend-focused, ‘athleisure’ brand that hopes to join the surge of growing British trends for sustainability, sportswear and modest wear.

Under-Rapt by British-Egyptian Yasmin Sobeih
Photo courtesy of Under-Rapt.

“Not everyone is comfortable wearing little tops for sports, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims,” Yasmin continued. “I would like to champion the oversize trends. At one time, oversized was seen as unsexy; now oversized is trendy. Sportswear has emerged; it has emerged for going to Tesco [the retailing giant], for walking the dog, for going to brunch. There’s now less pressure for a girl to dress up.”

Yasmin launched her first collection at the London Modest Fashion Week in April 2017. She hoped to use her brand to promote ethical fashion and encourage Muslim women to adopt healthier lifestyle practices. Within a year of operation, Under-Rapt was accepted by the popular UK fashion website Asos. She participated at the Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane, a modest fashion and design event in Dubai organised by Islamic Fashion and Design Council. The current collection includes sports hijabs and leggings with cover-up skirts as well as conventional sportswear made from sustainable and organic fabrics.

Under-Rapt by British-Egyptian Yasmin Sobeih
Photo courtesy of Under-Rapt.

A spokesperson at research firm Euromonitor International confirms to My Salaam that UK sustainable fashion trends are on the rise.

“The concern about social responsibility and fair trade practices is gaining prominence in the UK fashion market and is likely to impact the industry in the coming years,” says Marguerite LeRolland, senior beauty and fashion analyst at Euromonitor International.

LeRolland says new technologies, social media, and mindful consumers are driving the shift to sustainable fashion. “In our age of hyper-transparency and social media communication, we have better informed consumers who want to know how materials used in their garments and footwear are sourced... We also have companies that are exposed to greater reputational risks if they, or their suppliers, are found out to have unfair labour practices or production processes which have a disastrous impact on the environment.”

For her part, Yasmin pays meticulous attention to her supply-chain practices. She has traversed the globe seeking high-quality, sustainable materials and has partnered with a manufacturer in Turkey using materials from Beechwood trees in Austria. “I’m aware of exactly who is in the factory and who is designing,” she remarked.

Yasmin’s collections may appeal to Muslims, but she does not consider them exclusive for Muslims.

“I wouldn’t want to limit my brand to be Muslim-only, and it’s unfashionable to label it like that,” she said. “Today Muslim girls are so fashionable, and they go to the gym. It’s all about global trends. Globalisation is driving modest fashion.”

As part of her five-year business plan, Yasmin plans to roll out sustainable lifestyle concepts. “Think skiing, diving, and organic yoga mats,” she said, “I feel that there are going to be huge changes in what people buy, and in the long term it is the right idea.”

Yasmin has always been interested in merging the East and the West in fashion, but she never dreamed that her hobby would become her job. “You have to know your product, always go out and find your own suppliers, and just go with it,” she said. “Any passion that you have is feasible as long as long as you know your business: be sure of your direction.”

(Reporting by Alicia Buller; Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@thomsonreuters.com)

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