Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bucket List | 20 Things To Do in My Twenties

Something tells me that your twenties are a tricky time (unintentional alliteration, can I get a hell ya?). I’ve been thinking (and stressing) about this a lot. Your twenties are confusing and just chock full of contradictions. On one hand you’re supposed to make the very most of your time—travel, explore, make memories and be creative—but on the other hand, you’re supposed to figure out what to do with your life and work towards becoming the person you eventually want to be in the future. Balancing passion, ambition and adventure is a daunting prospect, so to sort through my own internal clutter of random ideas and plans, I’ve created a list of things I want to do in my twenties.
Bucket List | 20 Things To Do In My 20’s:

  1. Happen upon Banksy graffiti.
  2. Watch a French film without subtitles and understand it fully.
  3. Finish and turn in an essay 24 hours before it’s due.
  4. Attend a show at any of the fashion weeks.
  5. Have some really good ramen.
  6. Learn how to jumpstart a car and change a tire (myself).
  7. Go to a cat café.
  8. Make enough $$$ to be able to buy my own cappuccino machine (priorities, am I right?)
  9. Give more charity. For each article of clothing I buy, try to donate an equivalent amount to a worthy cause.
  10. Trek across the desert. Maybe take a camel with me. Obviously, I haven’t figured this one out yet and I’m going off of random travel pictures from the internet.
  11. Go a whole month without missing (or having to make up) a prayer.
  12. Go hot air ballooning in Capaddoccia, Turkey.
  13. Study abroad in London.
  14. Read the entire Quran during Ramadan.
  15. Learn to skateboard.
  16. Go on a trip to Morocco + Turkey with friends/siblings.
  17. Buy my parents something nice with money that I earned.
  18. Meet Zayn Malik (highly unlikely, but a girl can dream).
  19. Find out what to do with my life. You know, just another easy peasy task.
  20. Finally, make a list of 30 things to do in my thirties, because (contrary to what you read on the internet) you have a whole lifetime to dedicate to adventure, to “first times” and travel. Your dreams don’t have to take the back seat just because you’re married, have a career and a family.

Hope this post has inspired some of you guys to revisit your own personal bucket lists. We'd love to hear what you've got on yours! Let us know in the comments below x Ismat

Quote/illustration by Fareeha Ahmed

Friday, May 23, 2014

Indian Street Style Inspiration

What I never fail to notice when I'm walking through the streets of India is how masterfully we combine vibrant colors and patterns in our dress. In just one outfit (a salwar kameez, let's say), a woman can unite various textures and colors in a manner that is interesting, yet classic and put-together. In my above indian street style collage I feature a mix of pastel colors, patterns and bright whites that I find especially beautiful. 
But, let's be real. While its easy to appreciate the beauty of south asian clothing while you're physically there, in the subcontinent, it's harder to do so or even wear those clothes when you live abroad and do not dress in your cultural clothing on a day-to-day basis. I think that's because we tend to group clothing into two categories, "western" and "ethnic," and we don't often overlap the two.

But, who says you can't wear your sari blouse as a crop top or your kurta top under that beaded vest you like?

Let this collage act as a cute little reminder that you can apply aspects of your ethnic dress (or even your ethnic clothing pieces) into your everyday "western" dress style. Go on, decolonize that wardrobe!

Do you like the idea of combining your ethnic and western dress? And when does one draw the line at cultural appropriation? Share your thoughts below! And feel free to share my collage on facebook, pinterest, twitter, or elsewhere.  

Sending good vibes (and virtual hugs) your way  ❤ Iffa

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Who Made My Clothes? | Assessing the Ethicality of Your Wardrobe

Two years ago this week, more than 1,100 factory workers died when the eight-story Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. Who was behind the tragedy? None other than our beloved Western clothing manufactures: Mango, Primark, JC Penney and Benetton, among others.

Tragedies like this have me wondering: who paid for my shirt? I paid fifteen dollars for it at Forever 21, but I mean, who really paid? Who paid for my wardrobe with their freedom, their wealth, or even their lives?

So, for this post, I decided to “assess the ethicality” of one of my outfits (under Part One below). I used sites such as The Ethical Consumer and Good Guide that rank and examine the adherence of various companies to fair trade standards (standards that are designed to end poverty, sweatshop labor conditions, environmental degradation, etc that have become commonplace in our free trade economy and puts profits over people and the planet). Under Part Two, I cover the specific actions we can take.

Now, enough of my blabbering. Allons-y!


1. ZARA Shirt. I was sad to find that Zara (one of my favorite brands) is known to employ suppliers that exploit their workers. According to the Ethical Consumer’s conscious fashion index, these suppliers include:
  • Unlicensed workshops in Argentina that run “under slave-like conditions.”  Workers work 16-hour days, are kept from exiting the building or quitting the job, and are denied reasonable sanitation, hygiene and safety standards.
  • Garment suppliers in India who exploit their young female workers. These women endure an excessive workload and are denied privacy, freedom of movement, and the full extent of their lump sum upon completion of their 3-year contract. (These women are from rural Tamil Nadu in South India, where my family is originally from, so this reality hits close to home.)
[ My score for Zara: 2/5 ] 

2. Free People Tote. You would think that the more you pay for your clothing, the more likely it is that its producers practice fair trade. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Free People or other high end brand names. Free people scores poorly on Good Guide’s societal and environmental rankings (placing it among the worst 50% of companies).
[ My score for Free People: 3/5 ]

3. Citizens of Humanity Jeans  Bought From Crossroads Consignment.  Citizens of Humanity is a company that makes its clothes in America, which means that its suppliers are more likely to adhere to American fair trade laws.
[ My score for these jeans: 5/5 ]

4) Flats From Indian Bazaar. So, these flats are actually my sister’s which I wore without her permission. (If you’re reading this, i’m sorry! I will repay you in bubble tea.) And I’m not sure who made them, but because they were bought from a street vendor in Bangalore, and there is no brand label, let’s assume that a private (non-company affiliated) artisan made these shoes and sold them at a competitive price.
[ My score for these flats: 4/5 ]

So, upon completing this assessment, I’m left with more than just a sense of injustice and outrage, I have a better idea of how to feel about the various clothing items I own or retailers I support. In the next section I dive into how to put this newfound information to good use.


This is where you’re probably asking yourself: “okay, clothing companies are terrible, yes, but what option do I have other than to keep buying from them?”

It’s true, we’re severely limited. You can blame free trade and good ol’ capitalism for that. But, not to worry, we can take certain actions to relieve ourselves of some guilt. They are:

  • Research your favorite clothing companies. Compare them to other equivalent brands: Are you buying from any especially harmful brands? Could you start buying instead from more conscious brands? A rudimentary change you can consider is taking the time to assess the ethicality of your favorite clothing brands and stop purchasing from those that just don't make the cutopt instead for those that adhere to fair trade and ethical practices!

  • Pressure Unethical Companies. Pressure from consumers may encourage (or even force) big companies to be transparent about the expectations they hold their suppliers to. You can do this by forming campaign groups with your school, local community, or college, to educate others about fair trade and pressurize companies to comply to your demands. To you college students out there: this can be a cool campaign idea to pitch at your next club meeting.

Lastly, I'd love to hear how you feel about fair trade politics. Do you own clothes from any unethical clothing companies? Do you think we should pressure unethical companies? Leave a comment below!

Thank you lovely souls for making it to the end of this post. I hope it was as much of an inspiration for you to read as it was for me to write. If you did find it useful or informative feel free to share it using the links below!

Sending good vibes (and virtual hugs) your way  ❤ Iffa