In this interview with Fatima Binta Muktar, renowned fashion exponent and founder of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), Alia Khan speaks on the totality of fashion and the design industry with particular inclination to the Muslim style, among other issues.
How would you reflect on the issue that fashion and design transforms people?
Our taste in fashion and design is perhaps the first form of communication that we put up when people see us. it is important choice that we make, and I think we all realise that we need to take it more seriously. So, what we wear, how we present ourselves, how we groom ourselves, all are conveyed in unspoken language, and usually from the other side the person who is meeting someone for the first time, or meeting someone you’ve probably not seen for a long time, the fashion looks matter. At first you would probably look at how they look and how their dress looks and what their sense of style is. That communicates a lot to us.
Fashion, style and design is a very important part of our lives, and of course we can take that a little bit further, because when it comes to Islamic fashion, there is an automatic image that is registered. Here you see a woman, perhaps modestly dressed with a scarf. And even a woman that is modestly dressed without a scarf, if she’s continuously modestly dressed in the way she carries herself, it can carry a lot of weight, respect, dignity, and this to a great extent signifies a level of decency in the way we perceive modest dressing. Modest fashion lends a character value in our opinion, and we like to see that and further develop the narrative.
What do you think is the connection between design and fashion?
Design and fashion are very creative, and as a result of the creativity, we are putting a bit of ourselves into every single thing that we do when it comes to any level of design and creativity. In the way we look, in the way we present ourselves, even in the way we carry our homes, our work matters.
The creativity we put behind our work shows that there’s an important level of personal influence that goes into any type of design work, any type of creative work. And I think that’s very important because that renders a human touch that nothing else can be compared to.
It’s very easy to see a machine design pattern versus a handmade pattern or style. But there’s a level of deep appreciation for something that is done by hand by the human touch and human creative mind, so it definitely brings to us a different level of respect and deep appreciation, for this personal investment that human beings made, behind the type of work.
How do you express yourself through your skills?
In general, how one expresses himself through their skill is that it’s a very personal journey and whatever our skill are that we acquire, we put them to best use, hopefully for the greater good and benefit to mankind and to hopefully bring back a better world. I hope that’s what doctors are doing with their skills, that’s what lawyers are doing with their skill, that’s what business people are doing with their skills. They’re putting something together that will serve people better hopefully, through their ideas, through their skills.
Let’s know how you launched your career into Islamic fashion?
Islamic fashion is a very important part of the Islamic economy, it’s very important Islamic lifestyle picture, so you can’t really ignore this space, it’s really critical part of the entire space. For me personally, I believe we have a very strong narrative in the Islamic fashion space, in the modest lifestyle space, there’s a very powerful message here, and perhaps the world is quite privy to that complete nature of the message, there’s a deep meaning to it.
There’s a depth in life experience to it, life can never be the same once you embrace the modest lifestyle.
And the reason for that is because we fail to commit to higher way of life. Most people that get into the Islamic fashion space naturally are doing it for a higher purpose, they’ve committed to it, to their creator, and they are embracing it for a life experience lifestyle that will yield a more meaningful messaging to their own life, and to the life of those around them so there’s a lot to be said on this, and I think for itself, it deserves much more contemplation, much more exploration.
How do you marry your various jobs/roles, philanthropy included?
It’s a holistic thing that requires one to be very cognizant of being philanthropic, of being their best character, of being ethical, of putting their best forward, of serving mankind, serving your creator to make sure that the world gift to us is a better place and time we live it, and whilst we are in it, we are doing our best to contribute in the highest way possible. That entire message is very much part of my journey in the Islamic economy and the Islamic fashion, design and art space. So it goes hand in hand, it really can’t be separated, being philanthropic should be part of our DNA, taking the idea of living the Islamic lifestyle seriously.
What are your 5 to 10 year plan?
The 5 to 10 year plan in the Islamic design and art space is a very exciting one, and I don’t think it’s something that would be created by human beings. We are on a journey that is naturally sort of unfolding a bigger plan. We are living in times where economy is doing a lot of different thing, usually we are seeing the retail sector falling apart everywhere.
We understand the reason for it and that’s why we have to address one of the changes and how the Islamic principles, values address this changes to bring about a better future for everyone, a better platform for everyone to enjoy and to succeed by. Success of everyone is important to us.
Our 5 to 10 years plan is to address the greater success as a whole, we believe that being Muslim and being in the Islamic space have a responsibility for everyone to live a better life, and not just a selected group of people.
What is your advice for people who want to have a career in the fashion industry?
Career in the fashion industry needs to be taken seriously, except it’s an exciting sort of hobby or experiment to see how your creativity is received by others. Creativity is always good for the development of your soul, of your self-expression, your own internal journey.
It’s one that gets in to the fashion and design , space doesn’t need to always see it as a career necessarily, it’s something that’s more fulfilling, perhaps you just juggle, a complete picture for them or develop more further.
From the professional point of view it really needs a lot due diligence, a lot of study, people need to know what are the demands out there, why is there such a huge spending power in the Islamic fashion, how can one delve into that? In IFDC (Islamic fashion and design council), we do a lot of research, reports, studies and surveys to address this questions; so, I really encourage people to take advantage of our services, we have consulting services, we are constantly launching opportunities for designers to do better, we have events that we partner with, so we do a lot of different things. We can create a lot of opportunity for the people in the space, opportunities that weren’t there otherwise. IFDC is a platform that supports and develops the industry players, to believe that people have their chances today than before.