Saturday, 3 July 2010

I’m not a fashion designer.

There have been malicious rumours circulating in some press lately that I am a fashion designer. Particularly hurtful have been things like that I’m inspired by The Catwalk, and mix trends with “hijabi fashion”. I mean, how upsetting. I’d like to clear this up once and for all with the following statement:

I hereby declare that I am not a fashion designer.

I never have been. I’m not interested in fashion. One time when I started out I tried to convince myself that I was really into shoes, but I just couldn’t sustain the lie for very long at all.
But I design clothes, right? Yeah, but I am a product designer who designs products, and my products just happen to be clothes. Look, I studied Engineering Product Design, not to brag that I can do engineering or anything, rather, to illustrate the point that there is a very practical/ pragmatic approach to my clothes design. The reason why I started the label was to provide very wearable products, that could work within a context relevant to the culture “Western Muslims” lived in and still be covered up and modest. I really could not care less about fashion-y fashion or what The Saturdays are wearing or what the latest gimmick to grace The Catwalk is. Really. Seriously. Believe me.

I think the most cutting of comments is that I’m inspired by the latest trends. How insulting. To imply that my work will only be good for one particular 6-month season is really hurtful. Nay, my clothes can be worn this season, next season, so last season. In other words Elenany clothes are timeless. Good design is timeless.

But in all seriousness I think it’s the reactions to expressions such as “Muslim fashion” which sparks the most interesting debate. It’s by and large the opinion that Muslim and fashion are contradictory terms which I would agree with, but going with the definition that “fashion” is showy and attention grabbing by its very nature. I therefore hope with the explanation of the ethos of my brand above, that’s not how I roll, at all. The more interesting reaction is “why do we (the Muslims) want to fit in and be a part of mainstream society?”. That’s the real debate. Start talking.