Real Fashion Confessionals With Designer Omar Salam
KWAKU ALSTON

Since launching his fashion house in 2012, Omar Salam has seen a steady rise in his career. After presenting at ESSENCE Fashion House NYC in 2019, he was appointed creative director of the Frallain Group, a platform for emerging African luxury brands. In 2020 the designer made his New York Fashion Week debut for the Fall/Winter season. “My Fall/Winter show was more of a gathering of people who throughout the years have been customers, supporters, friends, and families,” says Salam about his fashion week debut.  

Born in Dakar, Senegal, and a graduate of Parsons School of Design in New York, Salam has built his extensive career around modernizing African fashion. This year expect his looks to be seen on the global stage as we hear Vice President Kamala Harris is a fan of the designer.  Salam speaks about the gratitude he feels with Sukeina’s milestones, past and future.

Omar Salam, Founder of Sukeina

ESSENCE: What do you hope that a buyer will feel when wearing one of your pieces?  

OMAR SALAM: Sukeina is really nothing more than the “dictionary” for a woman—to let her pull words that are not verbal but visual. To let her express what she’s feeling, what she’s intending to be, what she’s trying to do. When you position yourself to create something like that for womankind and mankind, in the realm of fashion and garments, it is super important to be precise and disciplined. And it’s an ongoing thing. You keep on sharpening your tool. You want to make sure that the communication tool is as sharp and as disciplined and as exact as possible. 

ESSENCE: When looking at your designs, precision does come to mind. To what do you credit that? 

SALAM: Precision is critical when you are dealing with technicalities and proportion. I think that it applies to anything—whether it’s medicine or architecture. What we do is important, but how we do it is really what is paramount. A certain degree of discipline and precision can really support that, especially when we are positioning ourselves to be the allies or the assistants of a woman’s way of expressing herself as she walks through her world. 

ESSENCE: How does it feel to receive all the love for and about your brand? 

SALAM: I feel humbled and heard and appreciated. It never grows old, quite frankly. I tell people, just choose to do what you love doing. Because then whatever comes with it, it’s a plus. If I didn’t make a living off of it, it’s something that I would like to do even if I had to pay to do it. But then you meet with ambassadors, and people who represent and believe in that same philosophy. They support it, they feel it, they encourage it. It creates an incredible bubble of energy of people loving, supporting, pushing and enhancing one another. It is humbling, but it is also wonderful and very enjoyable. 

This originally appeared in ESSENCE March/April issue.