Reviving Refugees: Making a Fashion Statement


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“Salam” means love in Arabic and is used as a greeting by Arabic speakers. The word and design are indicative of NYU freshman Ismail Ibrahim’s desire to use his clothing line to paint the Arab world in a more positive light.

Kate Holland, Contributing Writer

Protests aren’t the only way to make a difference — fashion can make a statement too. GLS freshman Ismail Ibrahim sells t-shirts and hoodies through his recently founded clothing brand Salam Clothing. His designs feature the word “salam,” which is both the Arabic word for peace and a common greeting in the Arabic-speaking world.

Ibrahim started the company to support refugees from Islamic countries on their journeys to the United States after President Donald Trump’s executive order that banned travel from seven Muslim-majority nations in January was overruled. Half the proceeds from his sales go to Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit organization which aims to provide relief to and raise awareness about Syrian refugees.

Although Ibrahim studies GLS and journalism at NYU, he utilized one of his hobbies to make a political statement.

“I do not have a background in either fashion or activism, just a passion for both,” Ibrahim said.

Although Ibrahim was not intending on making a difference when he designed the first Salam sweatshirt, every item on his website is currently sold out.

“I made one hoodie for myself and people were really into it, so I started making more,” Ibrahim said.

The success of Salam has proven that getting involved is easier than it may seem.

According to Ibrahim, Salam Clothing’s website receives several thousand hits daily, despite only advertising through word of mouth. Ibrahim designs the pieces on his laptop using an old version of Photoshop and then works with a print shop in Midtown to produce the designs. He noted that shipping has presented a big problem to his business, claiming that the U.S. Postal Service is a difficult system to navigate.

Despite the challenges, Ibrahim will continue to build his business because he firmly believes in what it stands for.

By wearing a Salam garment, you proclaim to the world that you believe Arabs and Muslims are peaceful,” Ibrahim said. “I’m hoping the brand adds a little more peace, beauty and compassion to the world in general.”

This article is the second in a three-part series about how the NYU community has responded to the refugee crisis. Check out the first installment in the series now, or the final installment tomorrow on

Email Kate Holland at [email protected].