Heritage Month: Arab Americans in Fashion
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
No prominent American industry is without notable Arab American contributions. The fashion industry that developed about a century ago in U.S. and European markets is a place many Arab Americans call home. There are many well-known Arab Americans who were part of the early development of mass production of clothing, such as Joseph Haggar and William Farah, but the industry today does not only consist of specialized designers, but also the skilled people who promote the clothes, as well.
One of the most recognizable Arab American fashion designers is Rami Kashou whose participation on the hit Bravo television show “Project Runway” made him a household name. Kashou is known for his unique draping style and can be found in many high-end magazines, such as Vogue, InStyle, and Elle. His career started in Palestine where he would design dresses for socialites in Ramallah. Today, he continues to do so for his Rami Kashou brand, which has been worn by celebrities, such as Queen Rania of Jordan, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba, and many more.
Arab Americans are also contributing to the fashion industry as models for high-end designers. Two of the most famous Arab American models today are sister Gigi and Bella Hadid. The sisters became known at young ages because their mother was featured on the show “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” but have made careers for themselves as top runway and print models. They can be found in any magazine on stands today or walking in the fashion shows of designers, such as Marc Jacobs, Chanel, and Tommy Hilfiger.
An up-and-coming fashion designer, Nadia Aboulhosn, is making a name for herself as a designer for women of all sizes and ethnicities. Aboulhosn got her start as a model for American Apparel and is now the plus-size clothing designer for Boohoo, Addition Elle, and Lord & Taylor lines. As an advocate for putting more women of color and different sizes into fashion promotion, Aboulhosn has gained a fan-base of young women who aspire to see more diversity in fashion – an industry historically dominated by tall, thin, white women.
Other well-known members of the fashion industry include: Caroline Seikaly, a high-end dress designer; Reem Acra, famous for designing wedding dresses; Rima Fakih, former Miss USA and current model; Dareen Hakim, a purse designer; and Joseph Abboud, a menswear designer. As fashion continues to be one of the highest profit generating industries in the country, Arab Americans are sure to be part of it in the future. These are only a few examples of the Arab Americans who are breaking down traditional fashion barriers to make way for new and innovative approaches to self-expression.
See all articles about National Arab American Heritage Month here.