Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Ayeda Shadab and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m an Afghan model, designer, and M.B.A candidate studying in Beijing, China. I currently work with a few Afghanistan-based designer brands, with whom I share ideas, design sketches and also model for promotion. I’m also focussing on my own brand with which I try to blend international styles with Afghan local attire in a West-meets-East sense of style. The current timeline for launch is by the end of this year.
When did you first realise you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
Since my early childhood, I’ve been passionate about fashion and design. I would always love to dress up in different Afghan clothing styles. Everyday, I would try to enhance a simple dress and turn it into a lovely and stylish attire, the one which people could fall in love with. In the beginning, fashion was my hobby. But as I matured, I began to gain modelling experience. Soon afterwards, my focus shifted towards the clothing and fashion aspects of the modelling industry.
I love figuring out ways to make outfits unique. And doing this bit of critical thinking has helped me to progress in the fashion world. After working in this industry, I started to create my own designs and ideas for dresses. When realised I want to pursue a career as a designer, I began to constantly work on my newfound goal. Now, I’m really happy that I’m a fashion designer.
Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?
I’m a self-taught fashion designer, and both my undergraduate and graduate fields of study are outside the fashion industry. My passion for fashion and design stems from my heart and travel experiences. So, I’m keen to pursue any opportunity that can broaden my knowledge about the style and fashion industries. There should be no limits and boundaries for access to learning, especially for women designers.
How would you describe your personal style and how does this influence your designs?
Well, for my personal style, I always dress according to the occasion, whether it’s traditional or international. Since childhood, I loved wearing different types of traditional dresses. And Afghanistan has a large variety of traditional clothing. I always try to incorporate each one of the regional Afghan styles into my wardrobe. These designs create a unique personal style.
What’s the inspiration behind your designs?
Before designing something, I always like to look and study traditional pieces from my own country and try to draw inspiration from them, while at the same time keeping up with international fashion. This is because I want to create something that appeals to a modern woman. The handcrafted embroidery of cotton, silk, precious metals, mirrors and beadwork designed in traditional Afghan clothing, along with the unique patterns and with its vibrant mix of colours, are major sources of inspiration for my designs. It is also always a blessing when I have my family, friends and fans reaching out to support my designs.
What is your favourite part about being a designer?
The love of my supporters towards my designs are amongst my favourite parts of being a designer. I love it when people voice their feedback of my designs. There’s no better feeling than receiving love from my own Afghan people and international supporters from around the globe. Also, it’s always an honour when your work represents your country. As a fashion designer, I have the opportunity to present to the international community the different styles of my own country, with all its vibrance and historically rich culture.
How has your work evolved since you
My core concept and foundations haven’t changed much since I began designing my own ideas. One area in which my approach has evolved is the greater level of attention to detail and my focus on producing quality over quantity.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
How do influences from outside of your Afghan culture find their way into your work?
Traveling the world and access to social media has deeply influenced my designs. For example, I really like studying traditional pieces from other cultures, which at times are very similar to our Afghan ones. I try to come up with a new design using those examples as a starting point for brainstorming. Another example would be when I take an international style dress and add our traditional embroidery to it, making it a unique piece.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
I am fascinated by the long hours and intensive physical labour it takes to design and develop traditional Afghan clothing. It has fed into my work the sense that perfection must not be rushed.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since starting your fashion design journey?
My biggest lesson that I have learned is to always remain humble and to continue to work hard on positively relaying the best parts of Afghan culture to the world despite the many social challenges and constraints I have to face as a woman designer working in this industry.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media is one of the biggest platforms for reaching a wider audience today. Instead of depending on customers to find your brick and mortar store, the entire world is your potential customer now, all thanks to social media. Fashion is a field where there are no age or gender restrictions and everyone wants to look their best.
Facebook, Instagram and other social channels are great ways for brands to showcase their products and market it in a way that appeals to their audiences. Being a model as well as a fashion designer on social media has helped me to gain a loyal following where people appreciate my unique sense of style and design. It has helped me reach a wider audience all across the world. Social media has also made it much more accessible for people to purchase my new designs. We are living in the 21st century and there’s no better way to engage with people than with the use of social media.
What advice would you give to other designers?
Working hard is the key to be successful in any field, and it’s the same for a fashion designer. I didn’t imagine that I could be a successful fashion designer, but I worked hard on my ideas and it helped me to become the person that I am today. Being a designer is not easy, but when you have love and passion for designing, then you can be one of the most successful designers of the world. I wear my own styles and traditional attires to inspire people and develop a positive image of Afghanistan through fashion.