Sarah Shafni’s love for the industry and desire to change it to become more inclusive is truly infectious. The Dubai born lover of fashion has used her voice and influence to try and spread what she believes the industry lacks and has overlooked for decades.
We sit down with Sarah Shafni, who won the Best Fashion Blogger 2019 award at the World Fashion Festival for promoting body positivity, diversity and her advocation for modest fashion, to find out what drives her and how she sees the industry.
1) When did your love of fashion start?
The love of fashion started during my adolescent stage in life, seeing my elder sister who was a fashionista, talking about fashion, clothes and legendary fashion icons. Seeing her light up talking about fashion and style made me have a keen interest in fashion, and my Barbie dolls were a major inspiration to me and contributed to a hidden passion for fashion.
2) You chose to promote body positivity through fashion. What made you decide to take up this challenge?
My motivation to promote body positivity through fashion was this burning desire to bring awareness in the fashion industry precisely that fashion should be for everyone and every size. Every time you think fashion or see fashion, you see a size zero female on the cover, this makes women think we all must become a size zero to be valued in the fashion industry, teenage girls see these size zero models and fall into eating disorders, depression and much more harm to their health.
I needed to show the fashion industry that they should be more open to accepting women of all sizes and celebrate women of all races. A woman’s worth or value should not depend on her size.
3) Another cause that you are passionate about is promoting modest fashion. Why is this so important to you?
Modest fashion to me is dressing gracefully and elegantly if we see fashion legends such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or Princess Diana, their main fashion identity was Modesty, which is celebrated even at this present time. Designers such as Chanel and Dolce Gabanna has adapted to this trend and catering to women who are interested in this trend.
I admire and promote Modest Fashion, because it brings the best version of ourselves as a woman, by promoting body positivity on its own, lifting of the pressure of being a size zero, instead to be comfortable and stylish without being too conscious.
4) Where fashion is heading to, do you believe that there is still a space for modest fashion and if so why?
Fashion is becoming more global, the industry has been doing more to champion diversity, and a more inclusive approach to representation. Whether it is plus size, hijabis and more models of women of colour are all a step forward to a more diverse world of fashion. There is indeed space for Modest Fashion, The Modest Fashion Industry is growing and predicted to be worth more than £226bn by 2020, and this industry is rising in popularity even more through social media. From Instagram posts to youtube videos, high-street collections, and designer catwalks, modest fashion is everywhere.
5) What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment thus far?
My greatest accomplishment is creating my digital magazine, and this has been a major success for me being the winner for the Best Fashion Blogger 2019 at the World Fashion Festival.
6) You are an ardent supporter of diversity in fashion. What do you think is the greatest challenges there are to overcome this?
There are many challenges the fashion industry needs to overcome, Especially Diversity.
Often in fashion, diversity is superficial, as when casting of different races of people on the runway or in campaigns, the designers and executive team calling the shots behind the scenes to need to be more diverse, Real change can only happen when a more diverse group of decision-makers and executives are allowed to enter the highest levels of the industry.
7) Have you found much resistance in the industry towards fighting for these causes?
Not much, but yes I have faced resistance. Especially when dealing with fashion agencies they only cater to a certain sized group and a certain group of ethnicity. This has not stopped me from fighting for my cause, which is why I ensure to promote small businesses, Fashion agencies/designers on my digital magazine that support my cause. This way people can be more aware of body-positive and diverse brands to deal with.
I intend to bring out and publicize designers that support this cause, the more awareness the more women will feel accepted in the fashion world.
8) Your concept of publishing a digital editorial magazine on Instagram is very unique. How did this idea come about?
I get asked this question a lot, I used to be very frustrated not seeing enough of diversity and inclusivity in fashion magazines, and I remember how Oprah Winfrey started her magazine called the ‘O’ where she was in the cover of all her magazines showcasing a woman of color and body positivity. I was so inspired by this and one day in a dream (yes during my sleep), the whole plan of an Instagram magazine came to life and the next morning I was like that is it!! that’s what I can do to create my own Instagram magazine, and use this to promote designers and brands that support body positivity and women of colour! and that’s when the LWS Insta-magazine was born. (LWS stands for Lifestyle with Sarah)
9) If you could change only one thing in the fashion industry, what would it be?
Stop promoting size zero models in the
fashion industry, this has caused a lot of problems for women and girls over
the years from causing self-doubts, mental and health issues. This needs to
change, we need to see more inclusivity in the industry.
10) Where would you like to see the fashion industry in 10 years?
I would like to see the fashion industry grow more diverse, inclusive and work towards sustainable fashion. Sustainability is one of the biggest trends for the future -from new technology and innovation in fabrics to manufacturing techniques. The future I’d like to see is more sustainable and eco-friendly.