Monday, September 30, 2013

FAST FASHION, FAST NEWS: What does the need for immediate consumption mean for the future of fashion magazines?

  1. Fashion is a language that is conveyed through material objects. It is a universal phenomenon that impacts society in ways of wonder. Fashion news is what dominates the entertainment industry. Women want to know the latest trend off the runway. They want to dress like celebrities, who are more famous for what they wear than they are for what they do.
    Style and photography become the spoken word for fashion. The pages of fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar or Marie Claire speak volumes about what clothes or accessories mean. They are filled with pages of looks that women admire and want to embody.
  2. Throughout the history of fashion media, print magazines have been the money making tool behind the fashion industry. Magazines have worked as a mediator between consumers and fashion labels. Fashion journalists, writers, and editors have been the main voice behind the conversation on the pages of magazines.  
  3. Their critics have channeled readers’ thoughts and views on what is fashion or anti-fashion. Yet, with the invention of digital technology and the rise of social media anyone can now have a voice in fashion. The advancement of technology has entailed traditional style of fashion journalism to shift to a new type of citizen journalism. Consumers who were once obliged to subscribe to magazines in order to get updates on “in” trends, can now go online, click on a blog and get free fashion news faster than a magazine can print a page.

    With information being shared at light speed, fashion fanatics no longer have to be limited to the pages of a magazine, or to the opinions of critics. Anyone can start their own fashion blog, and critique trends, fashion labels, brands or celebrities based on what they think should be fashion. They do not need to go get a journalism degree, or receive prestigious awards to have a say in what goes on in fashion. They also do not need years of experience of working for a credible fashion publication to become a recognized fashion contributor. They just need a touch of populism in order to get a large reader base for their blog, and if they are talented enough, they can be famous overnight regardless of their education, their age, or where they live.

    Tavi Gevinson, who founded approximately 5 years ago at the age of 11, is a perfect example of such fame.  With over 13 million views and counting, she has worked hard to land her permanent front row seat at fashion week.

    Bryan Boy of another male blogger who has had great luck with blogging fame. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs designed a piece in his collection after the blogger. 

    According to the New York Times,  

    “Marc Jacobs was the first designer to sense the power of multimedia. When he named a bag after Bryanboy in 2008, he made the blogger’s name, and turned on an apparently unending shower of designer gifts, which are warmly welcomed at”

    The question is how do fashion journalists feel about the emergence of bloggers?

    Suzy Menkes, fashion critic for New York Times,  states her astonishment at the blogging industry:

    “Adhering to the time-honored journalistic rule that reporters don’t take gifts (read: bribes), I am stunned at the open way bloggers announce which designer has given them what. There is something ridiculous about the self-aggrandizement of some online arbiters who go against the mantra that I was taught in my earliest days as a fashion journalist: “It isn’t good because you like it; you like it because it’s good.” 

    In addition to receiving free clothes, and fashion week goodies, Tavi Gevinson spoke openly about turning blogging in to a making money opportunity in her interview with 

    The rivalry between journalists and bloggers has also been apparent at fashion week. When 11 year old Tavi Gevinson wore a large pink Dior bow hat to fashion week, and happened to block the view of a journalist seated behind her all hell broke loose.

  4. The digital age has forced fashion magazines to adjust and adapt to a new way of communication. The internet provides the immediacy that print publications cannot. In addition, the blogosphere has contributed to the decentralization of fashion by taking power and exclusivity from fashion professionals and distributing it to fashion consumers. How big a threat is this to journalists who make their money through in-print publishing, and will this result in the collapse of the magazine industry  in the near future?

    Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Inspiration

I recently made a beautiful new friend over the summer, during Ramadan.   We met at the gymnastics gym that both of our daughters attend together.  I think that Allah (swt) put her into my life for so many good reasons.  She is sweet, kind, generous, funny, and has a heart of gold, masha'Allah.

Her name is Ania.  She is a Polish convert who is married to an Egyptian.  She has three adorable children, 2 girls and a boy.  She recently moved here from Pennsylvania, and I am SO lucky that Allah (swt) allowed us to cross paths.

After meeting weekly at gymnastics, we eventually became quite good friends after several play dates.  Our children were very close in age, and they bonded so well together.  Not long after meeting, I became her fashion consultant and personal shopper, a hobby of mine.  Anyone else need a wardrobe makeover??  Hehe!

I'll never forget what she told me after we got to know each other better.  She said, "You know, I would come to gymnastics every week looking forward to seeing your beautiful hijabi style.  It's so modest, yet so chic and fashionable."  Well, that totally made my day!  Thereafter we began talking, and I shared the blog with her, and she was just in awe.  She read every single post.   A few weeks later, I received the following email from her(which she wrote to me and a few of her closest friends):

Salaam girls,

    I am about to change something in my life. Is it a new style, bike or scooter? NO;). Since Ramadan started, I have been reading and watching materials about hijab, and thinking about it a lot. I want to start wearing hijab. I don't know how long it will take me ; a day, week, month or year.  

     During my research and thoughts about hijab Allah sent me a wonderful Muslim woman - Nazreen. 
She is very modern lady and wears her Hijab with style. The way she carries herself as Muslim woman is a genuine blessing from Allah. I am so happy and thankful to Allah that I met her. 
Why? I am so happy when I am around good Muslims. Meeting with them makes me happy and fulfills my heart with strangth and warmth. I would like that my look will show nice, clean and beautiful example of Islam. I want to be Modern Hijab Woman. I have started reading different blogs, watching YouTube  videos etc. One day Nazreen told me about her blog. She manages it with her two friends.   I GOT INSPIRED!!!  I wish I could be a commercial for Islam.
  I think Allah would like us ( people) to look respected and beautiful. Don't get me wrong, not beautiful like Barbie but I mean natural beauty within us. 
I am in process of changing my wardrobe. It is not hard for me because last part five years I was busy with pregnancies, breastfeeding and loosing weight. I did not pay attention to fashion at all. But now I will.
 My new style probably will be a comfortable style for mom of 3 active kids. Step by step I am going into the right direction. Inshaallah.
    Why am I writing this to you all? I need your support, encouragement, good word and any ideas.
 If any of you knows websites etc. that I should visit with pictures, please let me know. It will help me a lot and will be appreciated.
  Below I'm attaching a link for Nazreen's blog if you would like to see. Maybe it will inspire you too.

Eid Mubarak
     Ania Morssi

I was beyond flattered (to say the least) to receive this email from her.  In all honesty, Ania is my inspiration.  She is the one that inspires me to keep doing what I'm doing.  If there is anything good that she saw in me, then that is purely from Allah, and from Him concealing all my faults.

Thank you Ania.  You inspire me to be a better muslimah :).

Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia

Monday, September 23, 2013

My convert story, revisited

I haven't typed out my story in a while, it felt good to relive it for a moment, so I wanted to share what I wrote with y'all

Adapt to survive, this was a motto I began to live by at a very young age.  As the daughter of a convicted drug trafficker, I learned that you either adapt to the ever changing environment, or you may loose it.  My Brother and I grew up rough, as do a lot of kids in the US.  We were abused and shamed by our Mother and her endless bad choices until our family stepped in and took us from her. We were shuffled around from family member to family member until a cousin adopted us and we maintained a sense of stability, I was 8 by then.  I say these things only because in order to see how I came to Islam, I feel you should see where I began. I never really understood stability or foundation. My family did their best to raise us as good Christians, we were sent to church, and over the years I developed a bond with God, because of all the nights I would sit praying that the screaming and drunken fighting in the background would suddenly end.  

I was 17 when I got my first apartment and began living life under my own guidance. I stopped going to church then and decided that I would always take better care of myself than anyone else could, and would never allow anyone to hurt me, not like hey had done before. I went furthest from God during these years. I fell into drinking and pride.  At 21 I had a great job in the photography industry and after a few years I was making good money and patting myself on the back instead of thanking God.  I worked relentlessly only worried about making money and spending it on the most temporary lifestyle you can Imagine. I was managing a photography studio in New York for a few years and I can remember a time there that I would go out and party all night, get home at sunrise, take a shower eat and then go to work...repeat as needed. I would tell myself, well at least I don't do drugs, so this is not so bad.

I eventually moved back to Dallas and started my own small event photography business. I got some great gigs, I was the resident photographer for Ghost Bar, the newest hottest night club in Dallas.  I would go to work at 11:00 pm and shoot Justin Timberlake, Tommy Lee, Timberland, athletes, local stars...who ever was big that was there. My images would be published in local magazines and some national like People.  I was living it up, some celebs that were regulars even knew my Name, I even got a kiss from Tommy Lee. My job came with perks like tons of friends, entry to any club I wanted, open bar phone was always buzzing after dark and all I could think of was myself. I guess it was all too much. I was working and partying all in the same place, I began to feel empty inside. I was surrounded by nothing but material temporary life. Nothing had purpose or feeling to it. The people I was around were the same, empty and looking for the temporary satisfaction of the world. I would drink and get home and not even know how I got there. I would have dreams, where I am searching for something, people all around me in an ocean, I'm in a small boat and they reach for me, screaming and needing help. I would lay in bed and think about my childhood, I would think about how my Mother chose her desires over me, how my Father had left and remarried and started a new life with new kids and never looked back...I would just scream into my pillow and wonder if I was gonna crack or loose it...Had I lost my adaptability after all these years?

This was my turning point.  I had finally had enough. I used to talk to my friends about life and ask them "don't u want something more?". I felt a new kind of emptiness, this time it was a search for purpose.  I wanted to permanently fill the dark hole that had developed in my heart since birth. Some friends would try to recommend things.  I used to hang with this group, some of them were Arab, some Persian...they were all Muslim, but not practicing.  One told me about some stories he had seen on YouTube about people on the same search I was on and they found Islam.  Not exactly the encouragement I was looking for, but I was open to checking out videos. I watched Yusuf Estes story, and then Yusuf Islam.  He talked about the search, and almost drowning and begging God to give him a second chance at life and now he lives for God thru his new religion of Islam.  I related to this, like I wanted a second chance too...I wanted to live pure and clean like he did.  I wasn't running around looking for God, or Love, or Change...but I ended up with all three. I always tell people, God chooses when He's gonna come at you and He chooses how, not us. I came to a fork in my life and God placed me there for a reason, I could either go towards Him, or ignore the invitation and keep searching blindly for my greater purpose. God was throwing walls at me left and right, trying to make me stop and see the path He was laying for me. It was the night I met Hassan that was the biggest brick wall I had ever smacked into.  He wore an out of style shirt and stood there with his cranberry juice in his hand, looking completely out of place at the local lounge that I hung out at every Tues night. I had just arrived after I finished shooting at Ghost Bar and Hassan's roommate had drug him out there to play "wingman". I knew he didn't belong in this place around these people and that's what drew me to him. I approached him, he was too shy to talk much to me, we swapped business cards and little did I know this would be one of the last times I would be standing there at that lounge, vodka in hand.  He pretended to need a photographer the first time he emailed me. It was cute.  We would talk about life, and what we wanted from it.  He talked about his faith, Islam and I offered what I had learned from endless nights watching YouTube videos.  He saw my desire towards his faith, the more and more I learned about it and part of him was growing closer towards his own faith thru my excitement.  He gave me my first Quran, and told me about classes at the Dallas mosque. Half of me liked the guy, but most of me was drawn to this feeling that the more I learned from him, the more I was getting closer to a new way of life, a pure way that didn't leave me waking up every morning asking myself " how did I get home last night".  I went to classes for months at the Islamic Association of North Texas. I would meet with Hassan at coffee shops and tell him what I was learning. I was on my way and never looking back. The more I learned about Islam, the more my addiction grew. I would stay up all night listening to lectures and watching YouTube videos instead of going out drinking. I found myself lying to get out of shooting parties for Ghost Bar and avoiding my party began to have a whole new meaning. Months went by, that Hassan and I wouldn't speak, I was focused on my hopeful changes and he began his own spiritual growth. He would ask around about me, and would smile when others would tell him that I was still going to classes, and pursuing Islam.  I bought so many books and CD's, anything I could get my hands on. I loved reading "The Ideal Muslimah" I used to think to myself there is no way a woman like this exists...I read Believing As Ourselves and felt close to the author and her struggles to find her identity as an American and a muslim.  I bought "Daughters of Another Path" and pictured giving it to my adoptive Mom and that she would love the changes to my life...I wanted to be these women that I read about.

I was going to do this, I was going to convert. It was the end of April, 2007 when I said my shahada at IANT with Imam Yusuf Kavakci.  I didn't want to make a spectacle of it so we did it in his small office, just a few girls from the New Muslim class were there with me, they even helped me dress in hijab for the first time for the occasion.  As I'm sitting in the office waiting with them we hear a knock at the door.  In walks Hassan, blushing red and a friend he convinced to walk in with him. I blushed as well, we hadn't really been talking as much as we used to, but I felt so happy he wanted to be there...i fumbled through my declaration of faith to Allah, trying to make my Arabic as reasonable as possible with my thick twang.  I didn't know how this was supposed to feel, but I knew things would never be the same.  I let go of my nightlife photography business, I couldn't stand being in the clubs anymore. I was a clean person now, and a dirty job just wasn't gonna keep me on this straight path.  Ghost bar started offering me double to shoot their parties...I told myself this is the devil tempting me, trying one last time to hold onto me and that I would fight him till the end.  I got a day job, 9-5 working at a speakers bureau, arranging events for talent.  I would drive thru rush hour traffic blissfully listening to my Yusuf Islam CD, track 6 taught me how to pray in Arabic.  I got a roommate to help me not be lonely, keeping me home more often instead of temptation to go out.  I had stopped drinking and dating, cold turkey and never looked back.  

Hassan arranged for me to stay in Jordan for a month with his family, so I could grow more in Islam and experience a Muslim country. I went alone, without him, since we weren't married, and I saw a world older than anything I had ever seen. I heard the Adhan played proudly thru the city streets and wore hijab every day.  I was just wearing it for the spirit of being there but as the weeks went by I realized I would never be able to take it off...for once in my life I learned what it felt like to be admired for being modest, instead of sexual attraction.  Instead of a man checking out my body, he was shyly opening the door for me and nothing could be the feeling that I had stripped away my biggest obstacle...vanity.  I used hijab as a tool, to help me physically see the girl that I was working so hard on the inside to be.  I flew back to Dallas a full time hijab wearing Muslim.  It was never more a reality to my family than it was when I showed up wearing my scarf. My adopted Mother was so upset, she said she thought it was all a phase, but the scarf showed her I was serious.  It took a year for us to build our relationship back up.  I never stopped calling and visiting and showing her the positive changes Islam had to my life.  Hassan went to Haj that next year and came back a different man.  He started looking at me as more than just a friend and we were married that April, a year after I said my shahada.  We both grew closer and closer to Allah and truly became better people because of it.  Still to this day I can't for the life of me figure out how the two of us ended up together, consider who we were from the beginning, but all I have to say is God has many paths that lead to Him, He knows exactly which one you will take, whether you believe it or not.  Today,  Alhamdulillah Hassan and I have two beautiful muslim children.  I am photographing again, but this time I started something I can be proud of, doing weddings, families, and children  I share my story often and offer support and advice to others looking to change their lives thru my website and blog, and I'm a certified speaker with the Islamic Speakers Bureau and speak regularly at public schools and churches about Islam and Muslims and also am invited as an inspirational lecturer at Islamic events throughout DFW and nationally.  Alhamdulillah. My hope for the future is to host a talk show featuring the stories of New Muslims and feature topics relevant to challenges and transitions we face, in hopes to inspire born Muslims to be closer to their faith, New Muslims to face challenges successfully and Non Muslims to see past stereo types and gain a closer understanding of our faith. 

Nicole Queen for HijabiTopia

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Super Hijabi: Iqbal El Assaad

We recently came across a story featuring the beautiful young lady above, Iqbal El Assaad.  Not only is she a super hijabi, but she's super smart, completing medical school in Qatar at the ripe old age of 20!  Masha'Allah!  She will soon be attending the ever so prestigious Cleveland Clinic to pursue her residency.

Check out this article in the Gulf Times for more on her hopes and dreams for the future.

Bravo Iqbal!!!

Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the Press: Aksiyon International Journal

Designer Elif Kavakci was recently quoted in Aksiyon International Journal about her views on conservative/ hijab fashion magazines.

The interview is in Turkish. If you would like to look over the photos, please click the below link.

Gectigimiz hafta Aksiyon dergisinde Elif Hanimin muhafazakar moda dergileriyle ilgili gorusleri yayinlandi. Roportajin tamamini assagidaki linkten okuyabilirsiniz.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh Canada!

If you've been following Canadian news lately, you've probably heard of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values.  The Parti Québécois is proposing this legislation, whereby public workers would be prohibited from wearing overtly religious symbols, which include kippas, turbans, burkas, hijabs and large crosses.

We loved the following ad by Lakeridge Health, a leading hospital in the Greater Toronto Area, which challenges the proposed Quebec Charter of Values by featuring a hijabi!!!

What do you think?

Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Circus Hijabis

What do crazy hijabis do when they get together?  Join the circus of course!  Just kidding!  Well, what's the next best thing to joining the circus?  The flying trapeze, of course!  Skyline Trapeze just opened up near downtown Dallas, and we were the FIRST to get to experience this thrilling adventure.  The beautiful views of the Dallas skyline were just an added bonus.

Here's our crew, along with the helpful professionals over at Skyline Trapeze.

Our youngest, and most daring participant, decides she wants to go first at her ripe old age of 3.5, because "the animals did this in Madagascar 3."  Off she goes! Weeeeeeeee!

Following her, our next two brave souls decided to take a leap as well.  That face says it all!

Our beautiful young hijabi, Janna, is next and proves to us she's a natural.  First hijabi trapeze artist in the making?  I think so!  Don't you?

 Followed by Janna's bestie, Anissa.  They both make it look so effortless, don't they?  Masha'Allah.
Finally it's my turn.  I used to dream about flying on the trapeze when I was little.  I guess I can check that one off my bucket list.  Alhumdulillah, it was great fun.



Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia