Meet Nawal, a content creator challenging our perceptions around modest fashion.
Nawal is a 21-year-old communications student and influencer from Sydney. She’s passionate about redefining modest fashion and is on a mission to show her followers that it’s fun, creative and needn’t be conservative or stuffy. Like any way of dressing or interpreting fashion, it’s a vehicle for self-expression.

As a visibly Muslim woman in Australia, we discussed what challenges she’s faced and how they’ve shaped her into a stronger person. Read on to hear Nawal’s take on gender equality, mental health, personal style expression and what sneakers from Hype she’s wearing right now.

Hey Nawal, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a content creator and beauty/fashion influencer who’s on a mission to redefine modest fashion. I am also a full-time university student studying communications majoring in advertising.

With IWD coming up, can you tell us about the women you’re most inspired by?
Women who are unapologetic have always inspired me. Women who don’t seek approval and aren’t afraid to stand up for their beliefs.

Have you had any strong, female mentors?
So many women have been a part of my journey. My mum and sisters have always been so forward in fashion and creative which has pushed me to be expressive. There are also so many amazing Muslim women also who are iconic in their fields and are constantly changing the game.

What does it mean to you to be a young Muslim woman in Australia? Have you faced any challenges?
I’m super grateful for where I live. I’m Lebanese on my father’s side and English-Australian on my mother’s side. Although at times I’ve felt in the midst of an identity crisis, it’s allowed me to embrace all sides of my heritage. Being a young Muslim woman in Australia has also been a similar experience – although racism and prejudice are present, being visibly Muslim has allowed me to be unapologetic and stronger in character.

Your YouTube channel and Instagram focuses on modest fashion. What are some misconceptions people might have about modest fashion?
Many assume modest fashion is for one a niche industry, when in fact it’s a billion-dollar industry set to rise even more. Many also assume it’s a sign of male oppression and power over a women’s body – when in fact just like any woman has the right to dress how she likes, the same applies. Modest fashion is fun and creative and just like all routes of fashion, it’s personal.

What does dressing modestly mean to you?
Modest fashion is personal. For me, it’s to wear the hijab and dress in loose-fitting clothing. For some, it’s to wear 3/4 clothing, or even just preferring to conceal some features.

What advice do you have for women who want to dress modestly but also wear the latest trends?
There’s no issue in combining the latest trends and dressing modestly – modest pieces are on-trend. If you want to wear a midi dress or a cropped top, fashion is for all and there are no rules, so why not style it layered and creatively – unique to you. Fashion is for everyone.

How do you remain authentic and true to yourself?
As a young woman, of course, there is pressure to fit in, although I have learned that being different is powerful. It's exhausting to think everyone has to look or dress the same to suit a societal standard. Understanding that being your true self is unique and empowering has been important in my growth.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing young women in 2020? And how can we combat it?
Although it’s hard to choose a specific issue as all are important to focus on, mental health and body confidence has been a consistent conversation between myself and my followers. Social media is both empowering and damaging. I think women having more transparent and organic conversations online will encourage a healthier online presence. I would never want young girls following me to think I’ve never had the same issues they have and they are alone in it all.

What are you most passionate about?
While fashion and beauty are fun and a platform to help a bigger issue, I have always been passionate about diversity in media – opening the conversation of the Australian Muslim community and also creating a safe space for young women online.

And how about the best advice you’ve ever received?
To never conform to somebody else’s standard and to be authentically myself. Good things can only come out of being yourself..

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
So much, but for all women to have an education and feel comfortable with whatever pathway they decide to go in. Being a mother and being a lawyer are both powerful.

This year’s IWD theme is #EachforEqual. What changes do you think we can all make as individuals to work towards a gender-equal world?
Allowing women to have the same opportunities as men, and not having a women’s body or looks compromise this.

How would you describe your style?
A mix of all trends but honestly just very ‘Nawal’. Sometimes a thrifted dress with a high-end piece or sneakers – it’s always different.

And what sneakers are you currently wearing?
I am a massive Nike fan so I’m always pairing an Air Max 98 or 97 with some cute pieces to spice up an outfit – keeping it casual and comfy. I used to work at the Hype DC Macarthur Square so sneakers are a big part of my wardrobe.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
If I’m not shooting content, attending events or at uni, you’ll probably find me at home watching Netflix with friends and family. But I genuinely enjoy my job, so editing and filming are super fun too.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully traveling, growing a larger platform, having my own business and blossoming with my family and friends.

Follow Nawal’s perception-changing journey on Instagram and via her YouTube channel.