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Hussein: Changing the perception of fashion in The Gambia

My Magazine 2023/08
Ousainou Gaye is popularly known as Hussein, a Fashion-Creative and a first-generation master's student in Italy, Rome. In The Gambia, he is a brand ambassador for Yosh Gambia, a luxury restaurant in Fajara known for its fantastic cuisine.

In 2020, Hussein graduated with a BSc in Economics and Finance from the University of The Gambia. Upon completing his master's degree, he worked as an accounts officer at KMF Technologies and as a Fashion Stylist at QTV Gambia. In less than a year, he travelled to Italy for his master's program in European Economics and Business law.

The young self-made Hussein is the founder of Hussein's Closet, a clothing brand based in The Gambia geared towards addressing the climate crisis and unemployment gap. He is also a student leader who initiated a successful nationwide campaign encouraging young people to pursue their passions.

Hussein started his clothing brand while studying at the University of the Gambia. His idea was encouraged, and even after graduating, he supplied and designed hoodies for students, faculty staff, and professors, contributing to building his brand professionally. The brand focuses on all types of clothing for men.

After graduating in Economics and Finance from The University of The Gambia, Hussein earned a fully funded scholarship to study at one of Europe's best universities, The University of Rome – Tor Vergata in the capital city of Italy.

Coming from a family of six, predominantly women and being raised in a typical Wollof family has taught him to care for others. He co-founded and hosted The Sustainable Fashion Show in 2021 in The Gambia, using fashion as a tool to fight and mitigate climate change.

Hussein says, "Growing up in Serrekunda, one of the most significant metropolitan settlements, I was unsure how I fit into the world. I did a lot of soul-searching to understand who I am and what I can contribute to a rapidly growing economy. With high unemployment and pollution due to the burning of discarded clothes becoming a daily occurrence, my resolve to develop innovative ways of sustainable fashion grew stronger."

As a career path, he chose modelling, which is frowned upon in a very conservative and religious society like The Gambia. However, he persevered in his choice for personal reasons and to serve as a role model in the industry for young models, especially men. After a couple of years in the industry, he decided to work independently as a freelancer and exit the modelling industry. He started empowering models and fashion creatives by creating jobs. Hussein worked with several designers on many fashion shows and was featured in several magazines within and outside The Gambia!

Hussein is currently writing his master's thesis on EU-Africa Relations. He says coming to Italy was challenging as European education greatly differs from the education in The Gambia. Initially, he struggled to cope with the new environment and learn a new language – after one year and five months, things have not changed much.

Hussein has visited five European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and France. He has also worked with great photographers in the Netherlands and Italy. Most importantly, he has been a student ambassador and featured in school promotional materials, magazine covers and brochures.

Hussein plans to expand his clothing brand in Europe and Africa, and he is also looking forward to working with the EU, UN, and other big brands and organisations in Europe.

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