by Sigalit Hoffman
Five young Muslims are using fashion to spread awareness about Islam and
to give something back to their community.
Concordia students Ahmad Hussain and Ali Merali joined up with Concordia
graduates Khurum Ullah, Mubashir Jamal and Suhail Niazi to launch Muslim
Gear, a new clothing line of T-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts and toques.
But the companys main purpose is not to get another new brand name
into an already crowded market.
Its not just a logo; theres a message behind it,
said 27-year old political science student Ahmad Hussain.
The group is trying to spread the message of Islam through its apparel.
It prints phrases like Islam, more than a religion, a complete way
of life, and The hijab: oppression or liberation, Ill
decide on its T-shirts, which cost $15. A hooded sweatshirt costs
$30. Despite the clothings distinctive message, the five insist
the line is geared to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Were open for everybody to buy it, said political science
student Ahmad Hussain. We dont want to restrict it to Muslims.
So far, the demand for Muslim Gear seems to be high. The entrepreneurs
made $2,000 on February 2, the day they launched the new clothing line.
The group sells their product at booths during school events, and is planning
to donate their profits to the Montreal Muslim youth group.
It doesnt go into our pockets, it goes to the youth community,
Though the young entrepreneurs launched the company just over a month
ago, they already have plans for expansion.The men want to start manufacturing
religious wear like the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women, and
they are also hoping to tap into the womens market. They have already
formed a committee of women to help steer the design of womens apparel.
The company is a bold move for the students, most of whom do not have
business background. Dawson student Mubashir Jamal is an exception. He
runs Al Amin Entreprises, his own food distributing company. Suhail Niazi
works as a systems administrator in the West Island.
The five tried to launch the company in 1997, but a lack of funding and
experience forced them to put the project on hold. Despite their amibition
to expand into different markets, and even different cities, they are
proceeding with caution.
We want to take baby steps. We dont want to take big steps
and fall, Hussain said. This time, the group spent about seven months
making sure the company would get off on solid footing.
We had to do a lot of marketing, Hussain said. We had
to design a logo that would be appealing to the crowd. Ultimately,
the company is a testament to the seven-year friendship between the five
We do have a tight friendship, Hussain said. Its
not just a business relationship.
Inquiries about Muslim Gear
can be directed to Mubashir Jamal at 582-3439.