LONDON – For the second year running, the London Muslim Lifestyle Show took place at the Olympia exhibition center in London, bringing together Muslim and non-Muslim brands targeting the Muslim demographic.
From food to fashion, the program, which ran across the Easter weekend, included talks ranging from technology to the empowerment of women, along with a musical/entertainment auditorium and a fashion show sponsored by the Turkish brand Modanisa.
Within the exhibition space, many genres were covered. Contemporary Islamic artist Siddiqa Juma for example launched a new set of her paintings. Pie Mezzanae – who won silver at the British Pie Awards – showcased their range of traditional British pies which were of course halal.
Daniel Thomas Dyer, co-author of the new 99 Names of Allah book, was there with his team, and the Halal Sweet Company enticed passersby with tasters of all the sweets most British Muslims grew up with, such as the tastiest of marshmallows.
Former banker, now entrepreneur and founder of the successful MuzMatch dating app Shahzad Younus, was seen meandering around, while the Muslim Doctors Association, currently led by Dr. Hina Shahid, was on-site providing free medical health checkups.
For the first time, a new product, Baby Bismillah came on the scene, providing packets designed for young children, where each purchase also included a donation to help an impoverished child elsewhere in the world.
While elsewhere the hospitality of food could be witnessed, from the Steakhouse HS&Co who served a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, while the now mainstream brand Haloodies served tasters of their range of chicken from all four sides of their stand, winning them the best stand design of the show.
Attendees came from far and wide within the UK but also from abroad. Three Dutch Muslim men for example, with permission from their wives to travel alone, flew in for the weekend.
Rachid Lamrabat, who manages the launch of Muslim brands in Belgium and Holland; Ferukh Ahmed, whose background is in finance but is known as the unofficial ‘Mayor’ of Rotterdam as he networks and knows almost every Muslim in the city; and Dutch celebrity TV chef, Mounir Toub, whose new TV series will be broadcast over upcoming weeks.
The Modest Fashion Show drew in two sets, influential bloggers – who focus on the Muslim female dress market – from around the world, and everyday attendees.
Styles on the catwalk ranged from conservative attire to the more contemporary; and with so many outfits being extremely tight and revealing, the experience – for me – was no different to attending normal London Fashion Week; which has also included over the years Muslim designers from Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan.
The normalization of the fashion set was also quite obvious, as some of the guests with their layers of make-up were just as pretentious as normal Fashion Week a-b-c listers; though in fairness there were also those guests who were friendly and approachable. And of course models such as Paula Souza and Sadaf Aras, neither of whom are Muslim, could be seen at both, normal London Fashion Week and Modest Fashion Week.
It was refreshing to discover so many positive Muslim and non-Muslim brands addressing and targeting the Muslim demographic.
The talks, speeches, and entertainment reflected the wider interpretation of Islam, noting that it is not the way you dress that makes you a Muslim; after all, God created us in different communities, with different cultures, to enrich all of our lives.
British Muslims increasingly define themselves through a diverse range of identities reflected by the way we dress, the things we eat, the styles of entertainment we enjoy. And while most events in the UK tend not to be defined by religion, instead by function e.g. the Chelsea Flower Show, the Ideal Home Show, even normal London Fashion Week, all of which deliver something perfectly suitable for Muslims, it is refreshing to see many initiatives targeting specifically the Muslim demographic; and why not, business is business e.g. one of the largest halal Muslim food brands/suppliers in the UK is owned and run by a non-Muslim. A service is a service, as long as there is demand, there will be supply.
For those unable attend the Muslim Lifestyle Show in London, two other leading events are taking place in the UK. A B2B event named, the Muslim Lifestyle Expo on 2nd of May in London, followed by a B2C event, the Muslim Lifestyle Expo, to be held in October in Manchester.