By: Mariam Vakani
Subhi Taha, blogger and designer, is a twenty-five-year-old Palestinian-Pilipino-Muslim-American, with a distinct personal style that has made him a generational Muslim icon. Associated with his Internet presence, marked by his rambunctious YouTube videos and aesthetically pleasing minimalist Instagram feed, Taha is known by his audience and consumers as an inspiration for creative entrepreneurship. Taha has constructed a brand that encompasses the Islamic concepts of modesty and minimalism, with a traditional but timeless touch that makes his pieces classically modern. IFDC took the opportunity to have ask him a few questions about his process and brand.
As a designer, what (or who) would you say inspires your vision/style?
My overarching source of inspiration comes from my faith in Islam, where the concepts of simplicity and modesty root from for me. Those two concepts just so happen to overlap with my love for history/culture and traditional clothing where back in the day, construction was very basic and loose-fitting.
Can you speak on your process, once inspired?
I start with whatever part of the garment concept I’m inspired by. Sometimes it can be a color, a material, a silhouette, or even a closure style. I’ll take that image in my head, sketch it, and add the rest of the garment. I definitely don’t have a consistent process, it’s very scattered and random. Sometimes I’ll start a sketch and won’t have a final product drawn until a week later. But you can’t force inspiration. I won’t design something just because I have to, only if I’m inspired to.
Would you say your brand is “Muslim” or “modest”? i.e: what did you have in mind when creating the brand?
It took me quite some time to be able to arrange those two concepts in relation to what my brand was built on. Essentially, it’s a faith-guided brand. The designs are made with the duties of a Muslim in mind—like wudu and prayer. Making the sleeves wide enough to clean to the elbow, the tops long enough for when we bow down to pray, pants that sit above the ankle, etc. Alongside the fact that the guiding principles of simplicity and modesty are pulled from Islam. With that, the garments end up being what one considers modest. However, it’s not exclusive to Muslims. The clothes are in no way “Islamic” or religious—rather the designs were simply inspired by the faith. In fact, a lot of my customers aren’t Muslims. Some are just people who appreciate modestwear.
What would you say modesty means to you, as a Muslim man in the current environment?
It means everything. Modesty is such a crucial aspect of what it means to be a Muslim. Beyond the way we dress, but how we speak, how we interact with others, how we live. It’s a part of my everyday as a Muslim. Unfortunately, that’s not a fully understood concept for a lot of Muslim men. Most people think of Muslim women when they hear modesty, but it’s just as part of a Muslim woman’s faith as it is a Muslim man’s faith.
Is there a specific piece that you’ve created that has significance in your journey as a designer, or otherwise?
Definitely 1.08 from my collection. It’s an abaya-inspired winter coat. For me, it’s the perfect intersection of tradition, modernity, and function. An intersection I try to hit with all my designs.
While you create unisex clothes, what is your opinion on men creating modest clothing for women, both Muslim and non-Muslim? What do you think of men being responsible for creating modest clothes for women?
My approach with the brand is to encourage the concept of modesty as a whole—for both men and women, whether it be unisex as it is now or separated with later collections. But I do definitely think it’s important for there to be a woman’s perspective in the field of modest wear design. Especially with my hope to see modesty in fashion for both genders, it wouldn’t make sense to not have women be a huge part of the discussion.
Taha’s collection can be found on his website: https://www.subhitaha.com/