For the first episode of CultureXFashion, I asked Aya Ahmed, a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, about her outfits.
I would always admire Ahmed’s looks when she came into our sociology class last semester. From our interview, Aya taught me a lot about her culture, specifically what wearing the Hijab means to her.
Q. Can you describe the way your culture influences the way you dress?
A. My culture definitely influences the way I dress, since I was brought up in an Islamic household. Of course, women are encouraged to cover in this culture. We are encouraged to wear the Hijab, which means a lot of things. People think Hijab is just the way you dress, but it also encompasses the way you act, the way you treat people, and your overall demeanor. I’ve been wearing the Hijab since I was around twelve years old, and that means I dress really modestly, only showing my face and hands.
Q. Where do you get most of your clothing from?
A. I mostly shop online, specifically websites that are tailored to Muslim women and modest clothing. I also really like Forever 21. Sometimes it can be difficult to shop for clothing, especially in the summer when what is sold is mostly shorts and tank tops. I’ve noticed in the past three or four years that maxi dresses, maxi skirts, and big scarfs have become pretty fashionable even in American culture, so it’s been easier for me to find stuff recently.
Q. How do you incorporate your scarves into what you’re wearing?
A. I get most of my scarves online or when I go oversees to visit family. My family is from Sudan in Africa, so every two to three summers we go over there. The major religion there is Islam, so scarfs are easy to purchase and are a lot cheaper than they are here. When I see a Hijab I like I buy it and then later I match them to my outfits.
Q. Can you name some fashion influencers that inspire you?
A. I’m inspired by Bella and GiGi Hadid because of their confidence and the way they dress. Also, they are Arab too. I started following GiGi on social media after I saw her on the cover of Vogue Arabia. What I love about Halima Aden and what inspires me about her is that she is a true advocate for Muslim women who love fashion and design. I think she’s doing a really good job with that.
All clothing in this shoot was Aya’s own and as for the location… I wanted something you could only find in Columbia, SC and this gem instantly came to mind. No, I have never been to Tony’s drive-in service or sat down to enjoy some of their Italian specialties including the kid’s ham and cheese sandwich. But after driving by time and time again, I have waited to go inside and today was that day. Aya and I did a full lap around the premises of the restaurant and the cook (I think) came out and asked if we needed help. “No, we’re just exploring,” I replied.