FEATURED IN CITIZEN K ARABIA & INTERNATIONAL
Issue 86 for CITIZENK international / Issue 18 for CITIZENK Arabia
Question: CITIZENK - What is your background (education, …) and how did you start your label ?
Answer: YASMIN SOBEIH. As an English/Egyptian British Muslim, I have been fortunate enough to explore both traditions and cultures and have always enjoyed embracing both sides of my ethnicity. Having graduated in Fashion Promotion with Styling before working professionally in Fashion Styling, Sales and Buying, I have always been particularly intrigued with how fashion and lifestyles are becoming more integrated in today’s modern societies. With a thriving sports and healthy lifestyle retail market and emerging modest fashion industry, it became apparent that there was mainstream limitations for both Organic and Eco-friendly sportswear and trend-driven Modest active and loungewear. Therefore, I blended my passion for fabric innovation, unique Fashion Design, Fitness and healthy living and applied this to a business plan during my Post-Graduate Fashion Buying and Merchandising course, thats how UNDER-RÂPT was born.
Fashion retailers have been exposed in the media regarding their corporate responsibility in ethical labouring and environmental wellbeing. As such, customers now consider where and how the product is made and there is an increased shift and demand for transparency within fashion retail. Whilst style is uncompromised, UNDER-RÂPT uses ecological and organic fabrics that are sweat resistant, breathable, kind to the skin and hygienic - well suited to Active and Lounge wear apparel. My ambition to create an overall lifestyle women’s wear brand meant that my attention on merging ethical and organic fabrics with innovative product design was of huge importance. I believe that to inspire women to live healthier lifestyles then it must start at the core of the product and by sourcing environmental friendly fabrics and upholding ethical manufacturing we are not only increasing personal health and wellbeing but also encouraging and contributing to the welfare of our planet to conform to our consumers social and personal values.
By merging organic fabric with trend-driven modest wear, I have created the world’s first sustainable Modest Athleisure brand!
Question: CITIZENK Besides the market opportunities, how do you relate yourself to the modern athleisure consumer/woman ?
Answer: YASMIN SOBEIH. Whether it is Thai kickboxing, Sunday Yoga sessions or endless ‘food feeds’ on social media, I am an enthusiast of healthy living and wellbeing and I embrace this by living within the dynamic urban-city lifestyle. From energetic workdays, morning workouts, traveling and laid back brunches with friends, I am apart of these modern trends and culture. Therefore having travelled frequently and absorbing diverse cultures and religions, I realised a growing amount of ‘modest' females especially within the younger generation are expressing themselves through their participation in modern global consumer culture and therefore it became apparent that there was a lack of affordable organic and fashionable modest activewear specifically tailored to meet their social and traditional preferences.
Question: CITIZENK. What is your own definition of « modest » apparel ? Is it anyhow related to religion or tradition ?
Answer: YASMIN SOBEIH. With modest fashion weeks in London, New York and Dubai now running alongside ‘ mainstream' Fashion Week and models such as Halima Aden being the first ‘covered’ model to walk the Yeezy season 5 show and feature on the cover of Vogue magazine most often the word ‘modest’ is related to the Muslim market. Yet, I find that you do not necessarily have to be of Muslim faith, it may be through your social and personal values and that ‘modesty’ can be interpreted differently amongst varied religions, cultures and demographics and thus, we can not stereotype.
Through the role of multi-channeling, retail globalisation and social media global trends are integrating and this is largely expressed through fashion and lifestyle trends. UNDER-RÂPT has been influenced by brands such as YEEZY, FENTY and VETEMENTS that champion over-sized and relaxed silhouettes. Gender fluidity has been conveyed through fashion and now we see that the guidelines to dress modestly mean that over-sized forms are no longer regarded as unfeminine or deemed ‘unfashionable’ but instead are an expression of personality and individuality, and that is how the evolution of modest wear will continue to evolve and become more mainstream.
UNDER-RÂPT presents its ready-to-wear range such as organic lightweight Raincoats, Organic Relaxed jumpsuits and Organic Oversized Tees with the core sportswear range focusing on practical, timeless and resourceful sport shapes. Although UNDER-RÂPT conforms to Muslim females, product has been mindfully designed to also serve those looking for Eco-friendly and stylish Athleisure without the pressure to show skin. For example our 'Organic Hooded Baselayer Top' can be worn as a Hijab or has been worn by Athletes such as Boxers and Cyclists to keep hair up tight with the moisture control and breathable fabric components ultimately enhancing sports performance.
When creating clothing we have to think on a global scale; appealing to the mass market. The ease and freedom to travel worldwide means that designers are constantly inspired by assorted cultural dress, beautiful traditional architecture and exciting foods all of which can inspire an entire collection. Designers are now criticised if they do not showcase models of diverse ethnicity, religion and race and are considering a much more broader consumer base as women globally are now merging western fashion and trends with social ethos, personal values, culture and traditions. I have noticed a significant growth in ‘Covered’ models on the mainstream runways that may not necessarily be of Muslim faith yet designers such as Marc Jacobs and Dior are acknowledging this evolving ‘modesty movement’. It seems strange that people have forgotten that global icons such as Audery Hepburn and Sophia Loren were renowned for their head coverings and high fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has been showcasing head wraps for over 60 years.
Question: CITIZENK. How you will describe the style of your brand/collection ? Who are you targeting ?
Answer: YASMIN SOBEIH.
UNDER-RÂPT is practical, accessible and contemporary.
Conquering the everyday active lifestyles of women worldwide, UNDER-RÂPT poses as a platform between social and cultural values and influential western trends; confronting the stereotypes by offering it's unique product to encourage and inspire women globally to LIVE, EXPRESS and PERFORM healthier lifestyles and that UNDER-RÂPT product will be accredited and sought-after by women of all faith, culture and ethnicities.
The vision of UNDER-RÂPT is to refresh the Athleisure market and resonate with a broad international audience. From the dedicated fitness/health conscious and professional sport athletes (who seek sweat-resistant, breathable and organic products) to the fashion savvy, social millennials to the Modest customer looking for product specialised and catered to them, UNDER-RÂPT fills a gap in the global marketplace for an affordable fashion-led and sustainable Athleisure brand.
The countries that I visit inspire my creativeness and it may just be the local textile and fabric market, a particular building or the exciting street style that trigger my imagination to create fresh dynamic in my designs.We deliver quality and durable product and as fabric is specially made for UNDER-RÂPT, ‘fast fashion’ is not applicable to our brands aesthetic. Instead, to keep collections refreshing I visit fashion tradeshows and depict innovative organic fabrics and combine this with trend-driven silhouettes, in-season colours and the latest detailing such as waterproof decorative taping, the latest zip technology or lightweight embellishments to enhance the effectiveness of UNDER-RÂPTs active and urban design aesthetic.
We want our consumers to find something new and exciting in our collection each season that nods towards current trends but is practical, resourceful and ageless.