It's more than just celebrating the aesthetic value of fashion. It's about re-claiming my identity as a Muslim-Iranian woman and challenging political realities here and abroad.

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This time last year, I never would have imagined that I would have pulled so many all-nighters, skipped so much class (I forget some of my classmates read this thing), taken so many photos, and had so many a couple meltdowns to create my first-ever published extension of this blog. The creative process is such a long, exhausting, awful, beautiful experience. (One that I definitely would not have seen the end of without the constant support and help from my older brother, Haneif)!

I wanted to take the time today to write on some of the inspiration and goals of Tehran Streetstyle. Because you know, I like mission statements. And lists.

Photo from Tehran Streetstyle. Taken in Tehran, Iran, 2015

Tehran Streetstyle is here to:

1. Challenge mainstream Western Orientalist representation projects--& create an alternative narrative | Remember that whole thing I keep saying about not to trust the media? Yeah that's pretty key here. As an echo of the mission of JooJoo Azad, Tehran Streetstyle acts as a space I have created to re-claim my story, representation, narrative, and identity. You will not see any of these photos on your television screens or textbooks. They tell a story that will not be broadcasted in the West. The colors, fabrics, aesthetics, architecture, faces, shoes, and textures photographed that makeup the identities of young Iranian men and women are unedited, unfiltered, and unapologetic.

I chose fashion as the language for this project because of its beautiful and powerful communicative properties: clothing is a universal language of self-expression that can be communicated across people, cultures, and borders. And the young people photographed in this book have a lot to tell you.

2. Challenge domestic Iranian mandatory dress-codes | Almost everyone in the book is breaking dress code. (That's also why no names or locations are specified). While I chose to wear the hijab here in the USA, I stand firmly against mandatory dress codes--be it in Iran or France. Just as I stand against mandatory unveiling, I stand against mandatory veiling. Modestly means more than how it is defined by the Iranian government. My images illustrate the beauty, variance, and multiplicity of fashion and style as it is used by Iranians living under mandatory dress-codes.

3Provide content that has been specifically asked for | Your endless emails, comments, messages, and requests for more Iranian fashion and streetstyle have been dutifully fulfilled. Let's face it, there are not many spaces that have access to Iran, let alone the (underground) fashion scene. Iran sits at such a unique place in the world of fashion and style: despite the mandatory dress codes, Iranians continue to be some of the best-dressed people I've encountered in my travels. (Unbiasedly, of course). And, what with my research for my thesis also focusing on the politics of the underground fashion movement in Iran, I was really lucky to have gotten the opportunity to photograph so many underground artists and designers that I--or others--would not have otherwise been able to run into.

But this project was requested not only by my Western audience. While conducting interviews with underground fashion designers in Iran, I asked them how I was able to return the favor, as they spent much of their time opening up and talking with me. Unanimously I was asked, as someone who has a majority Western audience, to produce something that would show Iranians as they are--that wouldn't filter through a lens of Orientalism as all other Western media is filtered through. (see point 1). 

4. Provide "alternative" streetstyle inspiration | despite the fact that most of the men and women in Tehran Streetstyle are breaking governmental dress code regulations and that all of these photos were taken in the middle of the heat of summer, there are very little tight-fitting, skin-bearing looks. In the international fashion industry today, we are told that women should look sexy and that modesty is unattractive. We're here to say to hell with that. Beauty can be more than just showing skin. 

hijab, tehran fashion, iranian fashion, iran streetstyle, iranian clothing
Cropped photo from Tehran Streetstyle. Taken in Tehran, Iran, 2015 

Creating this book for you has consumed my life since I started this project 6 months ago, but I couldn't have imagined a more fulfilling way for it to have been spent. 
Thank you again to everyone who helped make this possible. And to you all for your constant support. 

Much love. 

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