We’re here with X.L. Lawrence, who commonly refers to himself as XL Abdullah, Founder & CEO of INSHALLAH CLOTHING, giving Islamic-Fashion an ever evolving definition, with all kinds of trendy, cool, looks, People of all walks of life can purchase & enjoy-He’s a Fashion-Designer, Humanitarian, and all-around great guy. I’ve decided to interview him, as to what makes him tick, from a fashion perspective & here’s what I’ve got for you.
G.B.: How old were you when you decided that Fashion was your thing, that it was something which you really acquired a true passion for?
X.L.: I guess during High School when I visited a college adviser to help me figure out what schools I should look into. I know I always like art and clothing but never thought about fashion per say but after speaking with councilor realize how much I did like fashion. I always dressed a little different from the rest of my peers. I always liked taking items and making them my own.
G.B.: As a Muslim, first and foremost, how important is Fashion, from an Islamic perspective, in your eyes?
X.L.: It’s very important. And important for a number of reasons. First here in America most have a stereotypes about what they think Muslims look like. LOL…Even some Muslims have set ideas about how they think Muslims should look like and dress. These ideas don’t make sense being just like Christians, Jews etc… Muslims are made up of every ethnicity, race, social classes etc… Yeah we have what is called Sunnah ( the ways of the prophet Mohammad -PBUH ) but every Muslim don’t follow every Sunnah. Some grow beards, some don’t. Some women cover their heads, some don’t. So why think everyone wears the same clothing. WE DON’T !!! With that being said, I design clothing that reflect young America. Clothing that reflect young American Muslims. Clothing that is relevant to all on some level.
G.B.: When did you decide that making a clothing line was what you really wanted to do?
X.L.: Ironically, I’ve been in the footwear business for 15yrs and designed for a few different companies and brand and always said I wouldn’t design clothing. Too many people doing it or trying to do it. For me it was a turn off. LOL.. But after reverting to Islam Allah revealed a few things to me in a number of ways made me realize this is what he wanted me to do.
G.B.: Who/what inspired you to actually get this clothing line started?
X.L.: My inspiration for INSHALLAH CLOTHING actually came from a place of empathy. One day I was on the subway when I saw a Hijabi sister sitting on the train with her down. A first I didn’t think much about it but after 10 minutes of her sitting there with her head down I began to wonder if there was something wrong. After 15mins I began to feel a sense of discomfort coming from her. I wonder why and began to check out her surroundings before I came to realize it was because people were looking at her in a negative way. I was hoping to make eye contact with her to let her know she had a brother there if needed but that opportunity never came.
This touched me and mad me sad. I began to say Allah I wish there was something I could have done to change that situation. The next morning after prayers I began to think about what I had saw on the subway and said to Allah again, I wish there was something I could have done to change that situation. Within second a idea for a tshirt came to me and I ran to my computer and start designing it. It said I LOVE NEW YORK with NEW YORK being in Arabic. Below in small letter said NEW YORK in English for those who may not know Arabic. I felt this tshirt would have spoken for the hijabi sister on the subway that day and made her feel a little more at ease. And INSHALLAH CLOTHING began.
G.B.: Why did you choose to name your clothing line “Inshallah”?
X.L.: I truly believe everything is Inshallah (If Allah willing) and want to give glory to Allah/God for everything that happens with this brand, good or bad.
G.B.: What makes you stand-out among other Muslim clothing brands, both past & present?
X.L.: I believe our brand isn’t just for Muslims but for all people that believe in term or phrase INSHALLAH so our brand is more universal. Our brand is created with a more universal message and approach.
G.B.: Every clothing brand wants to represent concepts, ideas, ideals, etc. So, with that being said, what do you want your brand to represent, what concepts, ideas, ideals, do you want people to take away from, while supportingInshallahClothing?
X.L.: That they are wearing and supporting a brand that stands for awareness, understanding, unity and peace.
A brand that give credit and glory to whom it belongs to. A brand that will change the world by changing its perspective on the things they may have never known before.
G.B.: Do you want your brand to be pigeon-hold as a “Muslim-Brand” (exclusive to only Muslims), or do you want it to just be universally recognized as a brand (that anyone/everyone can enjoy)?
X.L.: I think I’ve answered that already.. LOL…
G.B.: Do you think/believe or hope that Inshallah Clothing can/will be a driving-force to represent Islam in a more positive light, within the Fashion Industry, in the Public-Sphere, among Muslims, etc.?
X.L.: Yes, I truly do. And believe that’s why Allah/God gave me this vision.
G.B.: Okay, let’s talk just about you, as an individual, now: Since the recent event in your neighborhood, regarding the Man that you helped to identify for Police, who was a Sex-Offender, tell us, how does it feel to be a Real-Life Hero?
X.L.: My last name is Abdullah which means slave or servant of Allah/God. My act of helping is just a natural action of being a servant of Allah/God. So I’m no hero I’m just a Muslim (one who submits to Allah/God ) .
G.B.: There are, unfortunately, sadly, many ugly misconceptions, stereotypes about Islam & Muslims. But, when people like you prove all of those untruths wrong, how powerful, do you believe, is that impact, in the Public-Eye, to have them see Muslims whom are the exact opposite of the negativity which they are constantly bombarded with vie the Media?
X.L.: Some may stay stuck in their misconceptions and some will step back and reanalyze things. The more good that is displayed by us Muslims the more we have a chance to make people reanalyze what they think they know or about us.
G.B.: As a Muslim, as a Father, how important is it for you to have play a positive role in making sure that Criminals, such as the person whom you had confronted, were & are always confronted by members of the Community?
X.L.: As a father I’m so glad I confronted the criminal as I did. Now I feel a little that my wife and daughter along with the rest of the community is a little safer.
G.B.: What would you like your legacy, as the founder of Inshallah Clothing, to be, or have you even thought that far ahead yet?
X.L.: To have been someone that created a brand that creates dialogue, creates unity, and in return changes the world and world of fashion.