After immigrating to Canada from East Africa in 1990 and landing in Toronto, Jamal Abdourahman was eventually seduced by the West Coast’s mountains, ocean and fresh air, and made the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver his home in 1993.
Fluent in three languages, and able to converse in 25 others, Jamal attended college with the goal of working for the United Nations and traveling the world. To make money as a student, he began buying clothing at wholesale and organizing fashion and trunk shows at nightclubs, hotels and warehouses. He eventually opened a clothing store on Robson Street and later teamed with an investor who wanted to do fashion shows in Asia. Jamal closed the store and began jet-setting to fashion capitals including Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and London, and attended Paris Fashion Week in 1999. Back on home soil, he collaborated with a friend and started the first official fashion week show in 2000 which was named International Fashion Week. Continuing on his own, he rebranded the event Vancouver Fashion Week in 2002.
Now entering its 16th year and 27th season, Vancouver Fashion Week is the fastest growing fashion week in the world – creating a stage for talented local and international designers to reach global markets, fashion media and industry buyers. Vancouver Fashion Week has served as the gateway to designers who can’t show in the big events such as London, Paris, Milan and New York, and has helped launch many talents.
Jamal continues to put Vancouver Fashion Week on the world stage and every season the energetic producer attends fashion week events in South America, Asia, Europe and North America – meeting designers, fashion editors and forging partnerships. To date, Jamal has racked up more than 1,000,000 air miles, with no end of his promotion of Vancouver and designers in sight.