A Note From Oday: The Modest Aesthetic & Why It Matters
A new day is rising for women.
More and more, brands have women’s voices in the driver seat. Topics of inclusion, diversity, and representation of all types of women in fashion seem to be at an all time high. Real women. Real stories. Real dialogue on issues that matter. As a man - and a feminist - this is the kind of stuff that inspires me. The truth is that women are so much more diverse than fashion has led us to believe: diverse not just in race and body type, but in their definition of beauty and their choices of how to express it.
As an artist & designer, I've always had a deep connection with empowering women through fashion and telling a story. When I worked in LA, that story was all about the glamour and other-worldly creations that walked down runways and red carpets. And that required gowns with trains and sparkle, dresses that made one night appearances but lived on as art. While there is great importance in that art form, I realized I was ready for something more. I moved to New York, and in the three years I've been here, I've learned that my inspiration comes from everyday life. It was the stand-out style of women on the streets of New York that would turn my head. I found an other-worldly beauty in the street style surrounding me - especially that of women who, for any reason, chose to dress modestly.
I'm Iraqi-American and since childhood, I've been drawn to my community and cultural roots. With my new home, and new environment, I soon realized that all I wanted to do was create designs for the women I grew up with: my sisters, my friends, and the rest of the women in my community that I have watched grow up to be powerful, brave, and make a greater impact. And many of them choose to dress modestly - the key word there being "choose." Whether it's because of the faith they practice, different cultural backgrounds, gender identity, or even just comfort levels, modesty is their choice.
What struck me, though, was that both the fashion world and their own communities completely misunderstand them. Each side tries to put modesty in a box with a label where judgement and opinions overflow.
Modest fashion brands create designs from a single cultural aesthetic. Big brands like H&M and Dolce & Gabbana create designs that assume the modest woman is safe or conservative. But all of this misses the mark. The modest woman is diverse. I see it all the time - I see you, wearing kicks with vintage dresses, and a hijab with bold accessories. You are a risk taker, a rebel. You aren't afraid to be bold, and you're kind of a badass.
Do not mistake modest for conservative or basic. The modest woman I know does not shy away from making a statement. She speaks her mind through her style and stands tall in her choices. And I want to use what I love to do as a fashion designer to support that - to create clothes that embody all of that.
And so here we are, about to launch Season 1 of ODAY, a fashion line for the modern modest woman.
I discovered that the word oday means "to rise" in Sanskrit and that couldn't be more perfect. Because this new line embodies so much of my growth and evolution as a designer, and the beauty and inspiration I find in all of you - all the women who are rising to the occasion every day.
I can't wait to start this journey together.