As Headed Somewear just launched their beautiful Origins Collection, we sat down with Hakeemah (owner of CMB Styling) and discussed the inspiration behind the Collection, the behind-the-scenes process of how the countries were picked, the way the brand encompasses inclusivity, as well as personal experiences of representation and where Headed Somewear is ‘headed’ in the future. Our interview also touched upon juicy topics such as the struggles of always being the exclusion and never the default, questioning what is considered ‘normal’ and acceptable’ and how plus size body types are portrayed inaccurately.
Headed Somewear, a custom hijab company, main goals and purpose has always been to empower and represent all types of women with their designs. “Fashion is a form of expression and hijabis often miss out on that.” We wanted to create something that allows Muslim women to wear and express their personality on their sleeve – whether she is ‘headed somewhere,’ it’s a vision or dream she is chasing, or she is proudly holding onto where she comes from.
Their hijab designs – math, constellation, heartbeat – to name a few, include elements to represent people with all sorts of interests and dreams, and encourage them to not define themselves within a ‘box’ but to dream bigger and bigger.
Delve into our interview here:
What was your inspiration for the Origins Collection?
A big part of growing up in North America was being torn between two cultures – American and Pakistani – where I grew up and where my ethnic roots lie. I always struggled to find a balance between the two, so I wanted to represent that in a minimalistic way. The Origins Collection – the best part is that I can wear (western clothing) jeans and a hoodie but still wear a part of my culture casually that isn’t too loud or in your face. It’s a small detail and very minimalistic, but allows me to represent my two identities together.
The main purpose of the Origins Collection was to convey that it’s okay to find a home in two places, it’s okay to connect to two different places at once – they are both a part of my identity and it is important to own and represent that.
Which countries were represented and how did you formulate that?
There were 7 ethnicities featured – Bangladesh, Sudan, Pakistan, Palestine, Nigeria, India and Egypt. The process was a very long and detailed one, but very thoughtful. We started back in October 2019 and started with putting up a poll and asking our customers to vote. We did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people before we came up with these 7 countries. Once the 7 were chosen, we assembled a panel of women (2 from each ethnicity) to represent each of these countries, and used their feedback to capture their cultural identity. It was important to us that each one was represented correctly and authentically.
This is not the first time you’ve been representative as a brand, so talk about inclusivity as a part of your brand and how you’ve done that?
Whenever we put together a team, we never want to see just one type of woman there. The real world is so colorful – built up of so many different flavours of cultures and races, so we wanted to portray that in our team. The Origins Collection is basically what the real world looks like. When picking our models we never look for any one specific feature or type, to us anyone can model.
We’re starting to see that too in mainstream fashion – that what’s considered fashionable or trendy or the criteria of what a model should look like – is widening up a bit more. For example, sizes were decreasing and decreasing over time so plus size women were not being represented at all, but now we are starting to see them becoming more acceptable.
The default in America is light skin and male. Everything is catered towards the young white rich man, and everyone else is some form of exclusion of that. So how can we build that character so you don’t feel you are lesser than or less worthy of the mainstream default. Well, we need to unlearn what grew up with - what is and what is not acceptable in society. We need to constantly question what is considered ‘normal or ‘beautiful’ and that it should not be the default because it is not the default. We were always made to feel like we are always the exclusion and never the default.
Do you have any personal stories where you felt that you wanted to be included or represented in something and how did you feel if you weren’t?
Personally, for me it was always hard to find myself in a lot of clothing brands – into what was considered the ‘default.’ It made me feel like if my body type isn’t fitting into these types, then I’m not normal or acceptable. It really hit me at a very young age and I started to question why most brands only cater to a specific type of person or size. It impacted how I view inclusivity and beauty – and how that layered into my own identity.
What is something you have included in your brand that you have not seen included or represented in other brands (and not just in hijabi fashion brands)?
I would say women with disabilities – we don’t see much of that being represented – especially in the modest market. We also try to include a lot of different body types. And even when plus size women, for example, are being included In mainstream media, you often only see typical plus size women, but there are so many different types. You only see the two ends of the scale – either a plus size or your model-fit skinny, but the women who are in between lack representation.
What can we look forward to in Headed Somewear?
A lot of ‘uncomfortable’ messages are coming out – meaning they will be very unique and different from what has ever been done before in a hijab line. Our main goal is to portray the theme of growth in the new collection that aims to feel very representative. They will be releasing in the next 1 or 2 years - so stay tuned!
Shop Origins Collection using her affiliate link here.