Our editorial team sat down with our passionate founders: Zeena Fattah and Nadia Chalabi. Both Iraqi born but now living in London, these ladies are using fashion to tackle the taboo subjects in society including religion.
Where were you born?
We are both from Baghdad originally but escaped in 1958 during the coup.
Where do you currently live?
We both live in London, Zeena for the past 3 and a half years, and Nadia since 1958.
How did you meet and what’s your relationship?
We met in Baghdad because our families were friends and we went to the same kindergarten. We were re-unitued at college in Beirut and found that our mutual rebellious streaks meant we became the best of friends.
Who do you look up to?
Zeena admires Coco Chanel - she had the most fabulous, rebellious nature! Nadia looks up to herself!
What charities and causes inspire you the most?
We are very passionate about Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without borders) which is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation. We also love Quilliam, the world’s first counter-extremism organisation, and Prevent - which is about safeguarding people and communities from the threat of terrorism.
What is the most exciting thing about life?
We would say freedom. Freedom to have your voice heard.
Do you have a favourite quote in Arabic?
There is a quote by Hajajj Bin Youssef, the 1st Century ruler of Iraq,
"O' people of Iraq, incubators of mischief, hypocrisy and corruption. Beware! I come onto you with the sword of revenge."
and a word we love "Alhamdulillah" which translates to being grateful for anything.
Now let's talk about your brand, why One Religion?
One Religion means one belief, a single message of unity and compassion for all living things.
Religion is a taboo subject which we want to challenge. No religion is better or worse or truer than another since all of them are supposed to be the words of God. One Religion is about going back to the root of all religious teachings “to behave in the image of God” with compassion, love understanding forgiveness and to challenge the violent interpretations man has used in the name of religion, leading to war, hunger, injustice.
The 'ONE' stands for united - a united approach for all on our ONE planet, in our ONE lifetime and the 'Religion' stands for beliefs. So only when all religions come together and unite in their belief of attaining goodness for all living things on this, our One planet, and in our One lifetime, will there be peace. There is no place for power, hate and greed in this equation.
One Religion is a paradox. It is not about traditional, organised religion as we know it. It is about man’s interpretation of religion. It’s about exposing how religion has been used or abused to serve only those who seek to advance themselves through power, greed and land expansion. Hence we have witnessed and experienced the rise of terror groups. Our aim is to use fashion as a medium for open discussion, by using our clothes as a platform. Our clothes express an end to the destructiveness of hate and discrimination. This is our religion, One Religion. Respect and empathy for all living things in a safe and healthy environment.
We are Iraqi Muslims. We come from the region where the 3 monotheistic religions were born. We have also lived in Jordan. The baptism sight is in Jordan (Jesus). Mount Nebo is in Jordan ( Moses) and Jerusalem is half an hour away. Throughout our lives we have been faced with revolutions, wars and immigration's. We have lived and seen hate destroying our homeland and our people. Religion, hatred, fear, discrimination, extremism, coercion and no justice has been the most powerful voice we’ve heard ruling our area, the Middle East.
So we came to the UK and noticed that same thread of hate is running through some societies here; white supremacy and discrimination against Muslims, Jews and blacks.
Diversity is the basis of everything on this planet. Flowers, trees, seas, animals and people. We should see the beauty in that and not let fear and hate destroy it.
What's the key message and purpose of the brand?
To promote unity, compassion and acceptance amongst all living things. To do so by challenging everyone to live by these principals and to pass these on to the next generation. All religions should be respected; we are ONE.
Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
In the gutter and us in our graves!
What would you both say makes One Religion unique?
We want to tackle the taboo subject of religions.
Now for some quick fire questions... Vegan or Vegetarian?
Nadia is Vegetarian, but Zeena would be neither, she doesn't want to be pigeon holed. We humans are constantly evolving, isn’t that One Religion? After all no one likes to be stereotyped.
New York or London?
Zeena would say London but Nadia neither here nor there, she loves to be in Brazil!
Peace or Love?
Isn’t peace and love the same? How about we want to be the voice not the echo. Never too old, don’t use age as an excuse Trans-Age is the new Rage.