Warda Moosa: ‘Apparel for the modern modest woman’

In creating her clothing line, Warda Moosa took inspiration from a poem written at the 1991 start of Somalia’s civil war that tore the country and its people apart. In fact, she named her collection SOMALI BAAN AHAY (I AM SOMALI) after a poem by that title, and her clothing literally weaves those words throughout its fabric.

Warda Moosa

Moosa’s parents left Somalia 30 years ago for Dubai, where she was born, and later India, before moving to the United States in 2013. The poem was written, she says, for the Somali people as they left their country—many forever—and became spread throughout the world in countries that could accommodate the many refugees fleeing violence. The poem was meant to tie Somali people together.

“It was, in a way, a message to hold on to your culture,” says Moosa. A stanza from the poem reads,

Although I have nothing, my head is high,
I do not beg, I am rich inside with
self-respect, dignity and pride.

In researching Somalia, which Moosa knew little about, she found pride in the vibrant colors and nomadic lifestyle of its people. She wanted her collection to showcase a perspective of Somalia that very few have seen.

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Moosa wanted her collection to showcase a perspective of Somalia that very few have seen. Rich in color, music, poetry, and art, her clothing sends a message—there is more to this culture.

“If you Google ‘Somalia,’ says Moosa, “you find only ‘terror,’ ‘poverty,’ and ‘civil war’”—nothing that actually talks about what the real culture is about, what the people like, how the people dress, what songs are there—nothing about that was online,” she says.

Modesty also plays in important role in Moosa’s life and Muslim faith, and she says her clothing is designed “for the modern modest woman.”

 “I wanted to shed a different light, a different perspective on Somali culture,” she says. “A lot of what is in the media is unpleasant. I wanted to showcase the other part of the culture that a lot of people don’t know about.”

“Dressing modestly is part of who I am. I did not want to take that away from my line. It is special to me,” says Moosa.

She believes the apparel design program has helped her understand that there is a huge gap with modest fashion that needs to be filled.

Someday, Moosa hopes to perhaps start her own brand, one that young Somali people can be proud of.

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