It’s the 22nd of May — a day where we celebrate individuality and just being us, the carefree versions of us, without the projections of society and the need to always strive for perfection. Today is International Being You Day — a day where you are invited to discover your unique self and celebrate each other’s differences. While this is something we should do whenever we can, today solidifies that idea, it’s a reminder that we are worthy, a reminder to show curiosity and joy about one’s self. Being present and showing gratitude are essential concepts to live by, today, tomorrow and every day.

Seen, recognized and known

It’s in our human nature to want to be seen, recognized and known — it’s inevitable. Many, however, do not realize they have access to one of the best ways of making this happen: fashion. Fashion is probably the most influential medium in the world; it transforms the way people perceive us and the way we view the world in return. New studies by psychologists from California State University, Northridge and Columbia University found that, “The clothes we wear can also influence the way we think.” Style is your weapon and by understanding this, we can better understand who we are as individuals. It also reveals who we want to be perceived as in our ever so globalised and multicultural society.

In fashion, individuality is about nonconformity. Today, we’re encouraging you to make style choices that work for you and speak to you. Why follow trends? As Arabs, we tend to follow what others do. We often forget about our rich history, heritage and culture, that define who we are. From modern optics, to coffee and algebra, to universities, surgery and hospitals, we thrived and created much of what the world takes for granted. We forged our own paths and others followed suit. The MENA region has been a hub for some of the world’s best design talent for years and it’s time that the wider world starts taking note of what we want to say. Our style is a way of saying who we are, or who we want to be, without our having to speak. It is a multi-dimensional tool, it’s political, religious, cultural, the list goes on; however, individuality in fashion and the desire to be who we are gives us a sense of purpose and direction.

“Fashion Fascism”

Simon Doonan once said, “Conformity is the real fashion crime. To not dress like yourself and to sublimate your spirit to some kind of group identity is succumbing to Fashion Fascism.” Individualism is central in fashion, without it, creativity would not exist. If conformity is a crime for which you might be locked up, then creativity would be the key to freedom, for fashion is not just about leading along the style path, but rather creating it. The key to celebrating your individual style is learning who you are. This may take months or years, but identity and fashion are interrelated concepts. What we choose to wear when leaving the house day in and day out formulates our identities and our style is a visual manifestation of just that.

Fashion’s influence transcends the runway. If you needed a reminder to be who you are today, then I hope the above serves as a manifesto for just that. Look in the mirror right now, smile at your reflection, put on what you initially wanted to wear but were reluctant to, and leave your house proud of who you are. Now strut away, looking the best version of YOU!