Buying a dress may seem like the easiest thing in the world, but it certainly is not a simple task. Think about what it means for the environment, the workers who made it, and the consumer who is affected by what the industry decides is fit. So, one party gives the resources, a second gives their time and energy, and the third party – us – gives their money and body image. This is why it is essential to do things the right way, the ethical way. Joining the ethical fashion revolution, designer and fashion entrepreneur Nour Galal spoke to us about the reasons behind her brand, Rafeya, and how she hopes to empower women both as employees and customers through fashion.
What inspired you to Start Rafeya Fashion?
In 2014, I established Rafeya; a social enterprise that aims to empower women through fashion. Underprivileged women who are being subjected to things such as domestic violence, and women exploited by business owners. 30% of the Egyptian breadwinners are women suffering from similar circumstances in all communities. The second reason is to fight the unhealthy body image which the fashion industry has sold women for decades.
Tell us more about how Rafeya is attempting to accomplish inclusivity?
Rafeya wants to make fashion available for all women, by providing solution customization through our online platform. Every woman can choose the style she wants. For example, if she likes a dress from our collection, but wants to make it longer, change the sleeves or neckline style, she can. She also has the freedom to choose from our size chart or add her unique measurements, as we believe no size chart can include all women.
What inspires your designs?
We try to design products that suit all women and can be flattering to all body shapes. We always listen to our customers to cater to their needs.
What are the challenges you face while promoting your cause?
When we make a collection for Hijabis and include veiled models, some customers think we only cater to veiled women. The same goes for shoots that feature plus-size women, we receive comments like “I want outfits, not for plus size.” The concept of customization is not familiar to everyone yet. We always try to include diverse women in the shoots to solve this problem.
You used all plus-size models in your latest collection, do people sometimes mistake you for a plus-size only brand? And what is your take on that?
Yes. We try to clarify this and create content that explains the customization concept.
What do you want to accomplish through Rafeya and what are your future plans?
We are trying to be a successful, ethical fashion brand, but we did not introduce the rest of Rafeya’s vision to the public. This year, we are moving to a bigger factory that will help us work with more women. We want to train more women who can produce high-quality products. We care for the environment as well; Rafeya donates its fabric waste to a local NGO that produces products from fabric scraps.
How and where do you sell?
We sell through our online platform www.rafeyafashion.com