London, Paris and New York fashion weeks have been dominating the mainstream media throughout September, but, on Thursday evening, Manchester held its own sustainable fashion show. The event was hosted by Electric Bazaar, in collaboration with The Whitworth.
Electric Bazaar is a Manchester-based brand, set up two years ago by former alumnae of the University of Manchester. Shamima and Alicya are the best friend duo behind the company. Shamima told us that during their time at university they bonded over their shared love for styling pieces south asian pieces with western clothing. They began to notice that people liked what they wore and how they styled their clothes, so they were encouraged to start selling their garments.
The ethical fashion brand incorporates a fusion of South Asian, Middle Eastern and Western wear. Hand embroidery is a key feature of all the designs. Textured fabrics are pieced together to create diverse items of clothing that can be worn by any individual. The brand aims to bring awareness to the story behind each design and the artisanship involved.
All the clothing and designs are ethically sourced in Pakistan by the pair. The brand offers an accessories range and, like the clothing, every piece is unique. Electric Bazaar has a jewellery stall in the Want Not Waste shop in the Student’s Union next to Academy 1 and their prices are student-friendly and affordable.
The brand puts so much care into every item and all the products they sell have a story behind them. The intricately shaped sewing machine earrings are part of Electric Bazaar’s sewing machine project. All donations raised by the project go towards providing women in the Punjab province with sewing machines to help them earn a living. Shamima and Alicya are committed to making a positive impact on the global fashion industry by supporting their workers at the production level.
The show itself was a fantastic showcase of Electric Bazaar’s artisan collection. Shamima and Alicya introduced themselves and spoke with passion about their brand and ethical ethos. The show began with playing Sufi music (a branch of Islam that believes in minimalism and making oneself close to God), and from the outset, each model embraced their dress and walked down with grace. The looks were neutral and were paired with subtle makeup that made the models glow. Colour was a huge part of the collection. Autumnal shades of maroon and black were contrasted against pieces which featured soft lilac tones and emerald greens.
Jewellery was incorporated into every look and was styled creatively. Some of the models wore necklaces overlaid on top of dresses and tops and others wore drop earrings. The most eye-catching piece of jewellery was an ankle-bracelet worn by one of the models. Alicya and Shamima’s eye for detail and styling was present in every single look in the collection.
The models had the freedom to choose whether they wanted to wear the hijab, or to wear their hair down. The aspect of choice in how the models styled their hair really embraced the brand’s ethos of modest fashion. Alicya and Shamima explained in the introduction that for some modest fashion includes revealing less, and for others, it involves wearing more. The founders emphasised that modest fashion is primarily associated with Muslim women, but it really can be for one and all. The 17 models in the show represented a range of different races and reflected the diversity of the company’s target audience and the event attendees.
The ethical fashion show attracted a young and diverse audience with a great turnout from students of the University of Manchester. When asked about the event, former University of Manchester student, Aishah, said: “The clothes look like they’re made to last, and care and attention have gone into every aspect of the clothes. It’s great to see a part of my culture.”
The Electric Bazaar fashion show took place against the backdrop of a current exhibition in The Whitworth titled Parliament of Ghosts by Ibrahim Mahama. Mahama’s installation incorporates disused seating from colonial trains. The seating worked amazingly well as an inclusive event space for the audience on Thursday evening. Both the exhibition and what the brand stands for came together as a perfect combination for raising awareness for those whose voices aren’t always heard.
Electric Bazaar is an ethical fashion brand that has huge potential to emerge into mainstream fashion. The founders and ambassadors are very passionate about what they stand for, and it’s amazing to see how much they want to give back to communities in Pakistan. They are committed to empowering women globally; an incredible message to see being championed by such a young fashion brand. Keep your eye out for this brand’s next movements as we expect to see more exciting events from them in the future.