Born into a Christian family with a Dutch mother and Italian Irish father, fashion designer Kath Fry found herself drawn to the Muslim faith after travelling to Egypt and hearing what she describes as the mesmerising sound of the Azan, the Islamic call to prayer. On her return to Australia she studied Islam at the Daar Aisha Sharia College in Lakemba and converted in 2005. It was here she met Eisha Saleh, who became her business and creative partner in the modest high fashion label baraka. In 2009 baraka was named Muslim Business of the Year.
baraka’s philosophy is about translating high fashion trends into more modest styles. Kath and Eisha research trends, colours, fabrics and silhouettes, and then work on their own original styles using high quality fabrics, particularly cotton and linens. They decided to have their garments made in Australia to give them close control over production and quality.
baraka have a strong following online through their e-boutique and Facebook page, which allow their customers to get to know the designers better and connect with their creative process. It also means they have a global reach and like most Australian fashion designers they recognise the biggest potential for market growth is overseas.
baraka is more than just a fashion label. They also run styling workshops, children’s workshops and charity projects. “The key thing for me is what can I do in the world? How can I help?… I thought I can use the skill I have and sew clothes and with that money I can give back to the community”, says Kath.
In their words
“The reason we chose ‘baraka’ for the name is that it is an Arabic-African word meaning ‘blessed’ or ‘blessings’ and we found that word very appropriate. I am blessed that I can live in Australia and I am allowed to be who I am.”
“The philosophy of baraka itself is to fuse high fashion trends with maxi-length shapes; we look at collections and see what is happening on the cat-walk, the colours and things that are inspiring us. We take that and say, ‘How can we make that look more modest? How can we cover?’ And that is basically what we do at baraka.”
“Our customers are Muslim women, aged anywhere from 19 to about 40. Then we have customers who are non- Muslim and they range from about 35 to late 60s. These women are mums and they have had children and they work and they still want to dress beautifully and they want to look elegant.”
“We love things that are made well so that when you put them on you feel the love, you feel the beauty in the clothing, and that is really what we want people to feel when they wear baraka.”