The Australian brand faces backlash over the “Allah” text in a fashion show

Key points
  • The Australian brand is being criticized after models wore clothes with the word “Allah” printed in Arabic.
  • “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God” and is considered a sacred word for Muslims and Arab Christians.
  • The show was part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, which has since removed a photo of the controversial dress from a social media post.
An Australian high-end streetwear brand faced backlash from the community after it featured clothes printed with the Arabic word for ‘God’ at a fashion show in Melbourne.
The Not A Man’s Dream brand unveiled two of its designs at the Melbourne Fashion Festival final show on Saturday, which flashed the Arabic word “Allah” on the pieces.
One design featured a model wrapped in what appeared to be a sleeveless jumpsuit made of see-through fabric with the Arabic words “Allah comes with me” (الله يمشي معي) all over her body.

The model’s head, neck and ears were also covered in the same material, which some saw as a nod to the Islamic headscarf or hijab.

The models line up backstage.

One of the models (left) wears an outfit with Arabic lettering backstage at the Melbourne Fashion Festival show. Source: Instagram / / PayPal Australia

The next creation was a layered midi dress with short sleeves and a large slit, with the same blurred lettering. The model’s hair was also covered, but with a plain white cloth.

In a statement posted on Instagram on Sunday night, the Melbourne Fashion Festival said it understood some of the clothes had “offended” people and had removed pictures of the clothes online.
“The festival was not intended to offend anyone and we apologize for the offense caused,” the statement reads.
Not A Man’s Dream designer Samantha Saint James also apologized in a joint statement with the festival, saying she now “understands how some clothes can be offensive”.
“It was the opposite of my intentions and for that I am truly sorry.”
Melbourne-based Muslim fashion blogger Mona Khalifa, who attended the show, said she was “concerned” when she saw the design in person.
Ms Khalifa posted a TikTok video on her way home from the event, describing the designs as “blatant disrespect” for Muslims and Arab Christians who share the same Arabic word for “God”.

The video has since gone viral, attracting over 100,000 views as of Sunday night.

“Using sacred phrases and writing ‘Allah’ in Arabic, which is sacred to Muslims but also to Christians … is wrong on so many levels,” Khalifa said.
A TikTok user who identified himself as an Arab Christian also expressed his disappointment with the clothes.
“As an Arab Christian, this is terrible, for example, why is ‘Allah’ transparent fabric on her?” they wrote.

Ms Khalifa said she considered the term “Allah” sacred, adding that the Muslim community treats it with gentleness and care.

She said Muslims avoid placing items with the word “Allah” on the floor, and women who wear pendants with the word “Allah” remove their jewelry before entering the bathroom.
Ms. Khalifa said in the video that the Arabic text covers the model’s genital area.
She also claimed that models who could read Arabic refused to wear the designs.
Another Muslim participant, Hawra Khalil, said that while anyone can express fashion however they want, it should not be at the expense of “being hurtful and offensive” to others.

Billed as a luxury streetwear brand run by androgynous women, Not A Man’s Dream was founded last year by young designer Samantha Saint James.

Instagram screenshot of a model walking down the runway.

The Melbourne Fashion Festival has quietly removed one of its photos in a carousel post that featured a controversial dress. He also edited the signature. Source: Instagram / / Melbourne Fashion Festival

According to the website, the brand’s goal is to “empower people and create a sense of freedom by combining art, fashion and voice.”

Her motto is for people to show “the world where you are ruthless”.

The Arabic language has been incorporated into the brand’s earlier projects, where you can see expressions referring to love and affection in the photos uploaded to the network.

Model standing in clothing threads in Arabic.

The use of Arabic text is a common theme in past label designs, with phrases referring to love printed along the garment. Source: Instagram / / This is not a man’s dream

Following inquiries from SBS News, the designer blocked her previously public Instagram account.

Melbourne Fashion Festival also removed a photo of the controversial dress from an Instagram post that featured a merry-go-round of different designs from that day.

His initial caption accompanying the photo, which read “A bit of a fuss over the dress”, has since been redacted.

Ms. Khalil has since joined Ms. Khalifa in sharing posts to raise awareness and educate designers and institutions on the appropriateness of designs.
“Part of our faith is giving people the benefit of doubt, forgiving and hopefully learning from that so it doesn’t happen again,” Khalil said.
The controversy comes after Channel 10’s flagship show, The Project, received backlash when a joke about Jesus was broadcast live by a guest.
Queer comedian Reuben Kaye, who was a guest on the show, made a comment widely criticized as offensive to Christians and Muslims.

Co-hosts Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris apologized on air a day later after criticism from some community groups who have since called for the show to be discontinued and staged a protest outside the studio on Saturday.

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