Zuleyha Abdul is an artist and fashion design student who draws her inspiration from her Uyghur heritage and dreams of developing a fashion brand that is accessible, sustainable and timeless.
Zuleyha led an art workshop for Uyghur children and youth at the Palwan Youth Center in Istanbul, Turkey. The workshop turned into an art class at the insistence of her students. She hosted an exhibition of the artwork produced by her students at Palwan in mid-September.
“There weren’t many young Uyghurs in the arts when I started to teach,” Zuleyha says. “Our creativity was suppressed in the homeland so I wanted to help children express themselves, the plight of our people, and our identity and humanity through art.”
The 19-year-old Bortala born artist is studying fashion design through a concurrent program with the Fashion Institute of Technology New York and Istanbul Technical University.
“We create art to motivate ourselves and to express what otherwise remains inside,” Zuleyha says. “Seeing the different forms of expression, everything that my students poured on paper and canvas, and the connections we made through art made it an amazing experience.”
Zuleyha dreams of going to Milan one day to spotlight her Uyghur identity and introduce her people to the world through fashion. She hopes to collaborate with big designers like Gucci to gain world recognition for her own brand. Watch out world, Gucci X Zuleyha is coming!
She hopes that people of diverse backgrounds will be able to see something of themselves in her art, as she does in her favorite designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, who is known for his romantic, common sense, and experiential style.
“I want my brand to be accessible to all – women, men and children – with style that is sustainable, design that is timeless and creativity that is without boundaries,” says Zuleyha.