Somali American designers tackle refugee stereotypes in Minneapolis vogue pop-up


Style designers Mohamed Malim, 25, and Mohamed Hersi, 30, share related backgrounds as former refugees. It’s an expertise they’re embracing and elevating as they launch a brand new vogue collaboration aimed toward countering backlash in opposition to refugees and highlighting the facility and wonder the humanities can have in bringing communities collectively. 

The 2 designers will maintain their first pop-up occasion between their manufacturers Epimonia and Authentic Royal Refugee Saturday from 6-10 p.m. at Malim’s design studio in Minneapolis. The occasion is free and open to the general public. COVID-19 security precautions are being adopted and company are requested to put on masks. 

The capsule assortment contains hoodies, long-sleeve shirts and jackets that combine cloth from discarded life jackets to name consideration to the refugee disaster and promote the usage of recycled supplies. Hersi additionally painted a number of life jackets that will probably be auctioned off through the occasion, with proceeds donated to a number of Minnesota nonprofits devoted to serving to refugees. 

“We wished to simply convey one thing forth that’s larger than garments [and] one thing that’s extra purposeful,” Hersi mentioned. “Our manufacturers have considerably the identical DNA. We’re each refugees, each Somali, we each have totally different journeys as refugee immigrants, however you realize [we have] the identical bones.”

A pile of donated life jackets for use in making vogue items by designer Mohamed Malim sit within the Epimonia studio in Minneapolis on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

Evan Frost | MPR Information

When Malim based Epimonia in 2018, he was a school pupil on the College at St. Thomas.

He began by making bracelets from recycled life jackets worn by refugees, and since then, has proven his work throughout New York Style Week and opened his personal vogue studio in Minneapolis. He’s additionally a mentor to aspiring vogue designers who’re making an attempt to get their foot within the door. 

Since 2012, Hersi has been a painter and clothes designer. His model known as Authentic Royal Refugee and can also be based mostly in Minneapolis. He notably created some pink carpet fits for Academy Award nominated Somali American actor Barkhad Abdi who made his debut within the 2013 movie “Captain Phillips” as Somali pirate chief Abduwali Muse. Hersi says his artwork displays his Somali identification and his life rising up in New Delhi, India. 

Malim and Hersi met a number of years in the past when each males participated in a challenge aimed toward countering xenophobic narratives in opposition to refugees following Trump’s election. When that challenge concluded, the 2 saved tabs on one another’s work, however they solely just lately reconnected and developed their vogue pop-up. 

An orange wristband sits on a table.

An Epimonia bracelet product of a recycled life jackets worn by refugees who crossed the Mediteranean Sea within the Epimonia Studio in Minneapolis on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

Evan Frost | MPR Information

Like their earlier challenge, they view this collaboration as a counterpoint to damaging and hateful rhetoric surrounding refugees who’re displaced and compelled to flee their homeland, mentioned Malim. Additionally they see their designs as a celebration of humanity they usually hope their work conjures up different younger designers who’re questioning if there’s a place for them within the vogue business. 

“The expertise is on the market, however there must be that one one that can simply rise up, say ‘I wish to serve my group,’” mentioned Malim. “I wish to encourage the younger technology and that’s really the purpose — to encourage the younger refugee technology who need to faucet into the style business, whether or not it’s a mannequin, or there’s a dressmaker, or there’s a artistic or an artist, regardless of the case be.” 

Not wanting their communities to position limitations on themselves based mostly on lack of illustration, Hersi feels it’s vital to collaborate on a challenge that instills hope in future generations about pursuing their goals. 

“There’s so many limitations, simply to get to that final, ultimate place,” he mentioned. “I hope, no matter I do, it simply takes these limitations down, so whoever’s behind me can get by means of the door simply.”

If You Need To Go

What: Epimonia x Authentic Royal Refugee Pop-Up

The place: Epimonia Studio, 610 Southeast ninth St., Suite 5B, Minneapolis

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, October 30

Value: Free 

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