Women Who Sparkle: Eman Idil Bare
Multi-faceted and on a mission, Journalist, Fashion Designer and Writer, Eman Idil Bare, aims to change the world through fashion
Written by Suzanne Barber
It’s Friday night as the first look of Eman Idil Designs “Wadani Collection” emerges onto the runway and the first showing for the brand begins. A train of models draped in soft pink organza and lace followed by a collection of stiff collared shirts, veils, and dramatic skirts drift up and down the stretched stage. As the production comes to a close and the finale unfolds, I spot Eman Idil Bare for the first time. In a striking display of head-to-toe cobalt finished with her signature sequin turban, she takes her entrance exuding bold playfulness and power all at once. It’s Bare’s first runway presentation as the founder and designer of her own ethical fashion brand, although the wake of confidence she leaves behind each step has me fooled. She seems comfortable, arm-in-arm with a model as she rounds the runway with a wave and a full smile. She looks like she is having fun.
The following day, as she takes her spot in our studio wearing a more casual ensemble of distressed jeans, blush leather flats and a mock neck, it’s clear that the energy from her first show has not wavered despite her lack of rest. “I’m low-key nervous,” she says with a laugh, and I’m taken aback to learn that she is more comfortable giving attention than she is receiving it. “I’m always a little surprised when people tell me I’m confident because I see myself as still being this dorky high school girl,” she says. And although Bare has the youthful energy of a teenager, her stack of accomplishments signal she is no amateur. The 25-year-old Regina native now lives in Toronto where her role as a fashion designer is only one of her side-hustles. In addition to her full-time career as a Journalist for the CBC, Bare spends time fulfilling her roles as the Fashion Editor for MuslimGirl, Writer for TeenVogue and Allure and as a yoga instructor. With a myriad of roles, it can seem like Bare lacks focus; however, as she explains, there is a fundamental purpose driving her career. “It’s really about putting activism into action for me,” she says.
“I’m always a journalist first and I bring the stories of the people who work with my brand and manufacture my clothing into absolutely everything that I do"
Determined to make a positive mark on the world, Bare leans on what she knows best: fashion and storytelling. “I’m always a journalist first and I bring the stories of the people who work with my brand and manufacture my clothing into absolutely everything that I do...I think that fashion is the way to change the world because every person wears clothing or at the very least pays attention to trends.” As she discusses the mandate of her brand, her gaze grows a little more intense and her voice strikes a steady tone. For Bare, fashion is not only about art and style, but also about bringing people to the forefront of products. “One of the biggest injustices in fashion is that we don’t value all lives...when we support companies that buy or make things in sweatshops we are actually deciding that some lives are less important than others.” To ensure that her brand continues to prioritize people over products, Bare works directly with individual artists, utilizes video calling and views her expenses as a responsibility rather than a burden. “As an ethical fashion designer I have a responsibility to look beyond the paycheck,” she says.
It takes guts to start your own fashion line in a highly competitive industry, and it takes a genuine commitment to avoid attractive shortcuts. Yet, amidst complex challenges and uncertainty, Bare maintains a laser focus on her goals with a healthy dose of optimism. “I haven’t faced any barriers because I haven’t looked at them as barriers,” she says. Adding, “We have this idea that in order to do something we have to do it well all the time, but you should expect failure—those are your learning moments.” From early on, Bare viewed challenges as opportunities for self-growth. “I had a really hard time in high school and I just stopped hanging out with anybody...I started doing yoga, I played rugby, I spent more time reading and writing and I got to know myself...I was the only black Muslim kid, but I just decided to do things that were really out there because of that.” Now, looking back, Bare is grateful for her experience but remains keenly aware of her responsibility as a journalist. “It has always been really important for me to write for my younger self...I want to be the person who I needed back then.”
We have this idea that in order to do something we have to do it well all the time, but you should expect failure—those are your learning moments."
Over the years, Bare has worked hard to stay true to her unique character by merging her passions into a dynamic career. “I have always wanted to be a fashion designer and I have also always wanted to be a journalist, but you’re always told you can only do one thing.” Bare is proud to admit that her self-awareness and persistence have helped create a life she loves. “What I’m most proud of is that I actually grew up to be the person I wanted to be as a kid...I’m not 100% there yet, but I’m almost there and I know that I have built this authentically and for myself...I’m glad that I didn’t listen to everybody telling me to be one thing.”
Bare has never wanted to be known for one thing, but she does want to be known. In her now predictable form, she aims high, suggesting she aspires to be recognized for leaving her permanent mark on the fashion industry. “I hope to go to law school...I want to make it illegal to sell things in Canada that are made through sweatshops...that’s what I hope to be known for,” she says nonchalantly. Of her many noted roles, one certainty remains: Bare will always be known as a woman who challenges the status quo, leads with her heart and jumps bravely into the unknown.