Founded by Somali twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, the Mataano line seems bent on taking the world of fashion by storm…CNN’s Isha Sesay reports…
Commentary: Somali sisters journey from civil war to New York fashionistas
Two Somali women are making a splash in the New York fashion scene, designing a range of clothes that take their inspiration from Africa.Identical twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim were born in Somalia, but left for the United States aged nine to escape the civil war.
They grew up in Washington D.C. before going to college — one in Boston and the other in Michigan. After graduation they headed for New York City and set up fashion label Mataano — the Somali word for twins.
Seeing that New Yorkers were wedded to wearing black, the Mohallim twins were determined to brighten up the city with a splash of African color.
Ayaan told CNN, “We came into this industry and realized that with a lot of the clothes that we saw, everything was black.
“You know in Africa, with everything you wear it’s almost like the peacock theory — people want to be noticed, they want to stand out.
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Mataano Spring 2010 collection…behind the scenes…
Recently in the press…Mataano…on Page 66 of the April 2010 edition of Essence Magazine…
They were also earlier featured (back in 2009) as “Ones to Watch” in Clutch Magazine…
MATAANO [ma-taa-no]: Twins
Born to Somali parents and raised in both their native country and Washington DC, identical twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim are anything but ordinary. Having fled Somalia at the age of nine to escape the country’s civil war, both Idyl and Ayaan completed their college education at University of Michigan and Boston University, respectively, before making the bold move to Manhattan where they aimed to stand out from the rest in the world of fashion and design. Experiencing the industry from the ground up through careful study and practice, they slowly crafted their talent, weaving their cultural influence throughout each meticulously designed piece in their studio with only distant dreams of launching a collection.
In 2008, the Mohallim sisters took their first step together, launching a new brand, Mataano (meaning “twins” in Somali) and furnishing a platform to express their vision and bring forth their creations to the marketplace. Mataano’s premier Spring 2009 collection launched in New York City on November 1, 2008 featuring a boutique preview of ten dresses, many of which received notice in the industry. Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television, invited both siblings onto a recent show via Skype featuring the Olsen twins and young millionaire moguls. Paralleling their success with the Olsen sisters, Oprah lauded the duo for their inspiring story and much deserved success, and gave them the national credibility that will undoubtedly launch Mataano as an emerging brand with a rich cultural heritage.