A Vision of Modesty


Wed, 12 Feb 2020 - 03:14 GMT

Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

Jailan Atef has one simple secret to success, and that is to never stray from her strong brand identity and fashion values. Her signature designs make a bold statement, and appeal to both hijab wearers as well as clients looking for modest outfits. Egypt Today sits down with Atef to speak about her unmistakable designs, vision as well as her journey with fashion.

Tell us how it all began

I started my professional career in 2005 as a stylist and make-up artist after returning from Germany where I took make-up and styling courses. At that time veiled brides used to take off their hijab on their wedding day so this pushed me to design a new style of hijab for brides, which was very popular. Back then I did bridal make-up and helped brides with their veils. In 2011, I established my fashion line, Glow. My first collection launched in summer 2012, and though the designs were simple, the collection achieved great success because it had a unique concept.

Why did you choose to design for veiled women?

My main aim is to create simple designs that make veiled ladies look elegant, because wearing hijab doesn’t mean you have to forgo elegance. Modest fashion has become mainstream in many countries around the world; Nike cooperated with the iconic veiled model Halima Aden, who I want one day to wear one of my designs. My goal is to have a different perspective for hijab fashion in Egypt, and I’m working to be part of this change. But not all of my customers are veiled; I design for veiled women of all ages but any woman looking for a modest outfit can wear my designs.

What are the latest trends in hijab? What advice do you have for veiled women for choosing their outfits?

Number one you should take good care of your psychological health, because this will be reflected on your face, skin, body, hair and also on people around you. There are a lot of trendy styles, wear what suits you and makes you feel comfortable. The most important thing is to know your body and its weak points in order to choose the outfit that can hide your body’s defects. Don’t be obsessed with being curvy or having an hourglass figures body, because few women naturally look like that. Don’t overdo make-up, and instead go for simple, natural looks. The colors of your hijab should be consistent with those of your outfits, the simpler you are the more elegant you will be. I prefer cotton, satin and pure silk veils.

What inspires your signature designs?

I love simple designs. Of course I continuously follow the latest fashion trends worldwide, for example pailettes are very in this year, so I used them in my latest designs but in a different way. Now entire suits are made from paillettes, but not everyone has the courage to wear them, some ladies see that paillettes are not practical so I used them as ornaments on sleeves and mixed them with other fabrics. So yes, we are following the latest trends but at the same time create elegant, simple looks. I want to send a message to Egyptian ladies: please be braver and don’t hesitate to wear bold fabrics. For example some ladies say they can’t wear outfits made from sequins in the morning; this is not right. They have to try new styles and get out of their comfort zone.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

Do you specialize in certain types of clothes?

I design mainly casual and semiformal outfits which are more in demand and are more practical for me because I mass produce. Personally I love to design untraditional, new and creative evening outfits and dresses, but that requires haute couture or in other words something specific for each client. I do sometimes make some apres midi outfits, and with the right accessories they can turned into eveningwear. For example if you are wearing a plain black dress, statement jewelry or a big diamond necklace can turn it into an evening dress. I sell accessories in my stores to match my outfits. I deal with a talented group of accessories designers, I give them the ideas I want to be implemented and they do it. I’ve designed accessories before, especially the ones made of fabric, and have also designed shoes and summer boots, but I prefer to focus on the outfit design.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What are the trends this winter?

First of all black which I personally adore, burgundy, dark cashmere, dark yellow, beige, and forest green, especially in an army print. Capes and long coats are very popular this season. Under a coat you can wear a dress, especially a checked one, and a cardigan. Skirt trousers are also in this winter and fabric trends include velvet, suede, thin wool, angora and wool lycra. I love using thin wool because it makes you feel warm and at the same time it’s very flattering and slimming.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What fabrics do you use? Where do you manufacture your outfits?

Someday I hope I can get all my fabrics from Egypt, but unfortunately the quality and the pigments of Egyptian fabrics are not always high, so I use imported fabrics to guarantee good quality. In the past our fabrics were better than those made in Europe, I wish the quality could go back to that level.

I have production lines in three factories. The credit in the manufacturing process goes to my husband, Khaled, who is responsible for the production phase. Without his vision and support the brand wouldn’t have grown this big.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What plans do you have for the future?

I export some of my outfits but on a small scale but I want to expand and export to more countries around the world to make my Egyptian brand an international one. I want to open branches in the MENA region, in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and also in London, the US and Paris because there are large Arab communities there.



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