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Jirkeeyga collection

With the continuing rise of fast fashion and the devastating consequences it is having on our environment, sustainable fashion is strengthening its offensive. Organisations like Swap Nation are being erected with the aim of making ‘sustainable fashion affordable for women in the UK’. Clothes are being repurposed and vintage being back in vogue is further helping the sustainable cause.

Recent University of East London (UEL) graduate Yasmin Ibrahim is the proud creator of a fashion collection called Jirkeeyga, which means ‘my body’ in her Somali language. The collection puts in the spotlight Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), narrating through symbolic imagery the trauma faced by Yasmin, having undergone FGM herself at the age of just six years old.

The number six is featured on some collection items and the word jirkeeyga is written in spirals on others, representing the scream that Yasmin gave at the time of her procedure. Also reflective material is used on occasion as a way of reflecting the night and day nature of the fight against FGM

“I used reflective material because I wanted to be seen. I wanted my message to be seen, not only in the day but during the night as well. I guess you could say it is representative of the fight against FGM, which should be day and night. I could have just written ‘my body’ in English but I wanted the text to be more personal. It was also my own handwriting,” said Yasmin.

She describes Jirkeeyga as protest art, speaking out against a practice which she says is often veiled in secrecy. Her desire to be outspoken comes from recently having a baby girl, and only imagining the experience she would be due to have if she lived in Somalia. She hopes that the collection will educate people and support those who have gone through the same experience, reminding them that they are not alone.

Although this collection wasn’t 100% sustainably sourced and made, Yasmin has already stared thinking about her next collection and what can be done to make it as sustainable as possible. Forward thinking and planning by this new generation of designers will be really important for promoting sustainable fashion’s future.

Yasmin said: “For fashion collections in future I will definitely be focusing on upcycling. We throw clothes away all the time that we could naturally dye to change their colour for example. Fast fashion is adding to problems like air and water pollution which are seriously damaging the environment. We want to live in this world for years to come, so looking after it is a number one priority, and sustainable fashion supports our efforts. We have to educate future generations to come, too.”

The fashion designer has chosen to go with upcycling as a method of sustainability as a result of her own fond encounters with it, long before properly launching into the world of fashion. Yasmin talks about going into her mother’s closet and browsing through items that weren’t worn anymore yet her mother forbade from being thrown away. She talks about creating unimaginable new clothes from the old ones.

Not only is Yasmin making plans to incorporate sustainability into her new fashion collection ventures, but she is also making sustainable choices in building her personal wardrobe. Thereby practicing on a small scale what she is looking to implement on a large scale. “I don’t buy fast fashion clothes anymore. I now think about the potential damage a product is doing and how important it is for us to not throw away our clothes. My husband introduced me to sustainable fashion and I now buy this type of clothing and also encourage my siblings to do the same. I’m shopping at second-hand clothes shops and its great that vintage is back in style. I love hand- picking vintage clothes with my sisters. They are quite young so I am trying to influence them positively in this area,” said Yasmin.

Like many other designers Yasmin is seeking to do her part, future facing, for sustainable fashion on and off the catwalk. The quicker fast fashion goes out of favour and sustainability is embraced by the majority, the better our chances of breathing cleaner air and reducing the size of landfill. Another message worth shouting about.”

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