Upcycling collection in cooperation with Islamic Relief


And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

Approximate translation of Sura Al Anam verse 152 in the Holy Quran

One of the main reasons why I have founded Zamzam Zalila was due to the lack of social responsibility and sustainability in the world of fashion and particularly within modest fashion. That‘s why I was delighted to collaborate with the Islamic Relief and to promote their project “Speisen für Waisen“ (engl. Dinner for Orphans) with a tiny upcycling collection solely made of second hand hijabs. The outcomes will be auctioned and the earnings will be entirely donated to 500 orphans in Ethopia.


The idea behind the project “Speisen für Waisen“

As a mother of three I am convinced that there is nobody on this planet who will take care of my children with the same dedication as I do. Knowing that there are children who don’t have this person in their life breaks my heart. Our religion teaches us teaches us to be kind to the deprived ones and especially to orphans. For this reason the Islamic Relief started with a wonderful project supporting orphans in crisis regions.

So, here is the idea: People are invited to organise a dinner with family, friends, neighbours or colleagues wherby donations are collected for orphans in need. Themed “Having dinner together, helping together” the religious or cultural identity is irrelevant. As a consequence people with various backgrounds who might not have met in their daily life come together (click here for pictures and reports of former dinners organized under the umbrella of this project). I believe that all humans despite all differences have this wish in common: Their children should have a better future. Therefore, the will to help deprived children should be there.

Please take your time and read the stories of Farah, Motaz and the other orphans who were supported this project last year (link). This year the call for donations is dedicated to 500 orphans in Ethopia. You can als donate directly under the following link direkt or organise a dinner yourself (link).


The idea of sustainability within the fashion industry

Today’s fashion industry is dominated by fast fashion: Fashion is consumed. Either the quality isn’t good enough due to cheap (= unfair) production or the design only lasts for a season and is out of fashion afterwards. We wear almost 40% of our clothings less than twice a year (click here to an interesting article about this phenomenon with the title “Throwaway Clothing” by Greenukum).

And this is where I wanted to initiate the change with Zamzam Zalila: Quality that lasts and timeless designs that can be upgraded and customized easily/seasonally as desired.

But more important than the outer appearance are the conditions under which the clothings are made. I notice that the term halal strictly implies nourishment and its ingredients for most Muslims, but doesn’t refer to consumption in the broader sense. Especially when it comes to Muslim clothing people tend more to discuss whether the outer requirements of hijab are met, but not the respective production conditions. We should reflect how and who our clothes are made (a very good initiative is taken on a yearly basis at the Fashion Revolution Day: Who made my clothes?). We will be also held responsible about these things. That is why we should emphasise islamic values such as social justice and sustainability for the sake of the environment.

This later aspect is neglected in particular, because the actual production of fabris is another story. It also often implies poor working contitions. Furthermore, the cultivation of cotton or similar to be exported instead of eatable crop can be a major drawback for the local population.

In addition the environment is oftem effected negetavily, e.g. during the colouration procedure of textiles. I strongly recommend to watch this lecture by Zinia Khan about this topic (link).

With this approach as part of the DNA of my brand my friend’s sister who I was allowed to get to know through Zamzam Zalila came up with the idea to use old hijabs for an upcycking project. I asked the Islamic Relief if they were interested in a cooperation and they invited to m to their headquarter where I was allowed to pick second hand hijabs. The creation of the collection was a new experience for me that I will describe further on.


The idea behind the upcycling collection

To understand the challenge behind this special collection I have to mention that I usually start with the inspiration.

This can be creative (e.g. architecture or travel) but also functional (e.g. abayas for breast feeding mothers). So, at the beginning there is definitely a kind of vision and then I look for matching fabrics. This time, it was the other way round: I had a bunch of pieces of fabrics that I was supposed to use. Beside that, I normally sew a sample myself that I give for production to my atelier, but this wasn’t possible here. That’s why the result of each piece included a little surprise for me;)

Here it is:

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From left to right: The mess before, Somali, Amhara, Addis Abeba, Gambela, Tigray, Afar, Oromia.

The names refer to different regions in Ethiopia. My father in-law who is of Eritrean descent and knows this area very well, told me once when in Ethiopia a bird flies from one place to another, there will be a different language spoken. By giving these names I wanted to refer to the diversity of the country where once the first Muslims found shelter during their hijrah.

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