Ex-refugee turns life jackets into fashion clothing

2023-07-05 16:39:29, Trending CNA

Ex-refugee turns life jackets into fashion clothing

Founded by a former refugee, the Minnesota-based company, Epimonía, turns life jacket material used by refugees into pieces of fashion clothing and other clothing items. Some of these garments were displayed at an exhibition in Washington on the refugee crisis.

These are no ordinary life jackets. They are worn by refugees in different parts of the world who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to reach Europe.

Now they've turned into a fashion collection created by Epimonía, a Minnesota-based company founded in 2018.

Epimonía founder Mohamed Malim's parents fled Somalia during the conflict in the 1990s. He was born in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp complex before settling in the United States.

“We turn life jackets into fashionable clothing. The aim of this initiative is to make the world aware of the refugee crisis and support refugees with renewable materials", says Mohamed Malim, founder of the company.

His fashion collection and some of the life jackets and boats used by the refugees were part of a June 17 exhibit at a Washington gallery. This exhibition featured art installations and poems demonstrating the human stories of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

"In this exhibition we basically respect and honor the refugees who are fleeing from the conflict zones. We tell the stories of refugees who are forced to leave their countries," says Mr. Malim.

The International Organization for Migration says the Mediterranean Sea is one of the most dangerous sea crossings in the world. The director of this organization says that over 20,000 people have lost their lives in this area since 2014.

For this exhibition, Mr. Malim collaborated with the American-Somali poet and author Elias Yabarow, who is also known by his stage name ALAKKUU. He says the aim of the exhibition is to bring people closer to these personal stories of refugees.

"News on these types of trips are always just numbers. Nine people reach the shores of this city or 12 people are on the shores of that country. From news like this you cannot understand who these people are, or why they were forced to leave their countries. So we really wanted to make this a much more understandable story," says poet Elias Yabarow.

Mohamed Malim says he wants his fashion clothes to tell the story of the refugee's journey who wears them./ VOA

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