Tag Archives: Islamic Fashion

Mischka Velasco: A Fashion-Brand with a True insight to what Good-Fashion is:

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Author’s note:

In October, of 2013, I had my 1st professional photo-shoot done, with Mischka Valesco, a daring, hip, vibrant, fresh, fashion-company, committed to innovated ways of redefining what we deem fashionable, trendy,chic, cool, etc. I had went to one of their fashion showcases, during the ew York City’s Fall Fashion-Week. I was very impressed by their collection, and wanted immediately to do more work with them, hence this article, and, hopefully, with Allah’s help, more projects to come. Their designs, professionalism, positivity, ambition, and love for what they do truly compelled me to respect their brand, in very important ways. In addition to being able to shoot with them, I’ve also agreed to write an article, fr them, about them their company.

About Mischka Velasco, Founder, Mischka Velasco:
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Mischka Velasco. Born in Panama, lived in all over NYC including Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Beach NY, Seattle, Washington. Traveled to Asia and Europe. Studied in FIT but mostly self-educated in the reality of life. Driven by passion and the desire to create clothing that makes the wearer feel at home with themselves.

About Natascha Merchants VP Operations and Marketing, Mischka Velasco:
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Natascha left New York to attend business school at Northeastern University in Boston majoring in marketing and management and graduated magna cum laude. At Northeastern, she brought her New York style mixed with European, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern influences of her youth. Upon graduation she moved to New York to pursue a career in marketing, sales and pr in the fashion industry. Natascha had other offers on Wall Street and in banking but anyone intelligent knows when to jump ship. Not only is Natascha a natural astute business woman; she is creative, beautiful, and is a humanitarian. She shows us that you can have fun and still make a difference while successfully running a fashion start-up.

G.B: What gave you the inspiration to even go into the Fashion-Realm?
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M.V.: Fashion was always part of my life without thinking like food, music, art, paintings, and music. Just another simple extension and reflection of humanity.

G.B.: What did you expect from the Fashion-World, which didn’t/hasn’t happened, or didn’t/hasn’t happened yet?
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M.V.: I did not expect anything really at all. I am 300% into it for the experience and adventure. Most of all to learn.

G.B.: What did you not expect from the Fashion-World, which has happened, or continues to happen?
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M.V.: I did not expect to meet different people from buyers, to tastemakers, to media to be so interested in what a small label in Soho would think. I did not expect so much love and encouragement from my community.

G.B.: What is your tell-tale vision, and reasoning for staying in this industry?
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M.V.: My vision is to ensure that my investors, customers, patrons, colleagues, suppliers, and sewing contractors are happy including me while building this business. I visualize that our fashion line will be part of the ever growing trend of locally created and sourced clothing who profit. Love to be across the street from Earnest Alexander and Vivienne Hu!! My reason to stay is to be one of the successful people who want to be of use to empower other people to reach make their dreams to come true.

G.B.: How cut-throat is the Fashion-World, from a Designer’s perspective?
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M.V.: The only reason for the fashion world to be cut-throat is the lack of understanding. When everyone is willing to work hard as a team and focus on the big picture, it is rather harmonious. When we have a weak link, we definitely can feel it. So is it cut-throat? It is what you make of it. The New York fashion industry can cut you some slack if they see you working your damn best. It’s not something you can say, they can feel it. So if you are lazy and self-entitled and complain a lot, New York fashion industry has no tolerance for that.

G.B.: How rewarding is the Fashion-World, from a Designer’s perspective?
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M.V.: Despite many sacrifices, and its never ending needs to ensure the health of a growing fashion line. And some nights I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.I tell myself it could be worst. I could be living peacefully without fashion and that sounds likes a living hell. In the grand scheme of things, dedicating my entire life 24-7 to fashion until my brain rattles at night, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. At the end of the day, when I see a customer loving themselves in what
we created, it is what makes it worth all the while.

G.B.: Where do you see your company, within the next 5-years?

M.V.: I see a company that is well built, where we refined some of its own signatures in style. Somehow we perfected the craft of creating an environment where people love to work. We are profitable and our local community benefits from the knowledge of a challenging industry. If you can figure out how to make money off of fashion. One can make money out of anything. We hope to be lenders of ideas and catalyst for empowerments for all sorts of entrepreneurial ideas.

G.B.: Do you envision your company, eventually, becoming as legendary as the classic brands the likes of Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Valentino, Prada, Versace, etc.?

M.V.: We have visions of leaving a legacy like so many passionate fashion designers. However, we have great hopes for our company to prove that one can be a human being first and still be a good business acumen as well. My visions are not of this earth. I feel I am on the path of the spiritual. A greater calling, I feel true greatness is how you treat yourself and others. How loving can you be to another human being when under pressure? How much you can help other people succeed and push people to be better than they imagined with some direction? How patient can you be?(Lol) I can be pretty damn patient. But I can get annoyed when I work with people who don’t care. I will give a few chances, but, fashion has no room for mediocrity. How much are you willing to give and receive? Most people who give have a hard time taking. People who take never want to give. I dream of that perfect harmony of giving and taking.

For more information on the Mischka Velasco clothing brand, please, visit them online @:

http://www.mischkavelasco.com

Also, check out their kickstarter @:

My Fashion-Week/2013 in Pictures & Why my Love for Fashion matters:

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This year, I’ve decided to do something a lil’ different, referring to my many Fashion-Week exploits (…um, I mean adventures…HA HA HA…) via pictures that I’ve taken throughout the week of the Fashion-Week Fall/2013 extravaganza…And, there’s a lot of photos that I’ve taken…

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Photo-Shoot in Brooklyn: Photography by Aaron Mark

…The main reason why I’ve taken a sudden, some would dare say, an unusual,  non-conventional interest in Fashion, generally, is simply because, this is one of the main reasons why I was treated negatively, by so many other Muslims…

…Just to give you some background about myself: I’m Gareth Bryant, a 30-something, well-put-together, Muslim, of Afro-American descent, whom was at one point, in his life, a Salafi. In other words, I was a Saudi-Cheerleader (another post for another time to explain what that means). Anyway, according to the Salafi-Movement, the Salafis deem anyone/everyone whom doesn’t share their particular fashion-sense, based upon sectarian/culturally influenced standards is religiously off-the-mark…

Suit and Tie pic

Photo-Shoot in Manhattan: Photography by Alan Mildor

…And, there was even one time, when I was attending a Masjid/Mosque,  the Imam, at the time (by the name of Mustapha George), encouraged people to “boycott” me, as a result of not conforming with Arab-Dress, as the standard for Islamic-Dress, because I was wearing jeans, tees, dress-pants, shirt-and-ties, track-jackets, etc., I was considered & even called, by many, a “Deviant”, “Innovator”, “Heretic”, etc….

…So, instead of conforming, under-pressure, I fought back & enhanced my interest & love for fashion, despite the cruel antagonism of my peers, in this particular Muslim-Sect. And, this experiences encouraged me to look even deeper into the Islamic allowances of fashion elements. And, when I found all of the information that was necessary to fortify the validity of my fashion position, I was able to combat those whom deemed me a religious outcast, just because I wanted to be an individual…

Suit and Tie II pic

Fader & The GAP Opening Fashion-Week event: Photography by StudioBooth

…I’m actually very grateful to Allah, for testing me with these types of people. This trial of mine actually strengthened me in ways that I could’ve never perceived or imagined. It empowered me with the integrity to be different, and not just different -but that being different is okay. Allah didn’t create us to be the exact same people, or to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes,  or to enjoy watching the same sports, etc. Rather, he simply created us to use our minds, to come to the conclusion that He created all which exists & that He is the only one whom is worshipworthy…

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501 Union Brooklyn Magazine Launch-Party: Phtography by WeLovePhotobooths

…Now, with all of this being said…Fashion is awesome, and it is my hope to make an even greater presence of Muslims, particularly Muslim-Men, within the Fashion World, because there is a very derogatory stereotype, among Muslims that Muslims cannot thrive in the Fashion-World, unless they’re Homosexual. Yes, it’s a very lame stereotype. Unfortunately, one that is very dominant within the Muslim-World, especially within Muslim communities in the West.

My take on Fashion, and any other secular arts, is this: We, as Muslims, for the past 5-centuries, have been told to conform to the artistic, fashion, standards of others, without any say of our very own. Now, is our chance, to reclaim rightful ownership over how we express ourselves, as Muslims, via art, fashion, etc. And, as long as we stay true to our Islamic principles, with whatever we do in any industry (whether it be Fashion, Finance, etc.), we owe it to Allah, the Creator of the Universe, to define ourselves for ourselves.

Gareth Bryant/2013

My random “Words of Wisdom”:

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“You don’t have to spend a ‘King’s Ransom’, in order to look like royalty”

Gareth Bryant

The reason for me even bringing this up is because we all, at sometimes, or other times, waste so much money, trying to look like “a million bucks”, when we could actually spend a lot less, and get a lot more for our money. Don’t try to live beyond your means, for the “public-eye”, particularly when it comes to fashion. You can look great, without breaking your bank-Just approach shopping from a personal outlook, what looks good to you, what you like, as opposed to what others like. And, also, from a more realistic perspective, based upon what you can really afford.

My Fashion-Week adventures:

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My trek into one of the Fashion-World’s greatest events started out rather ironically. I wasn’t initially going to go to any events, because I was preoccupied with other things. But, as Allah would have it, He redirected my path (as usual) to something better. And, it was indeed better that I checked out Fashion-Week.

Day 1:

It all started on a Thursday night, September 8th; I was chillin’ wit some peeps from the Islamic Center @NYU (New York University). We had proceeded to chill at one of the local residential halls where all of the action of Fashion-Week was, on Lafayette St., bet. White & Walker Sts. We walked from the Islamic Center, from 6th Ave. to Houston, then to Broadway. While we were walking, I noticed that there were so many people on the street, and began thinking to myself, “Why are there so many people on this part of Houston?!!!”.

Actually, I ended up saying this out load as well. Then…..boom!!! We were right at the hub of all of what I’d like to call the March-Madness of Fashion, and that’s exactly what it was too…..pure madness!!! People were just everywhere, like a colony of ants that you were to see, once you cut on the lights in your house or apartment, just droves, and swarms of all different types of people.

As we were walking down Broadway, we got separated from one another, then there were just myself, and four other people, as opposed to the original 10-20 people that I started out with. We were trying so hard to play catch-up, and actually catch up with our other friends who were ahead of us, but it was just wishful thinking by this point. So, we decided to just stay together & make sure that we didn’t lose one another. So, we started to engage & delve into the atmosphere that was Fashion’s Night Out, the official kick-off event to Fashion-Week in NYC.

Man, there were so many stores open after regular business hours, with so many discounts on stuff. We were so amazed at the low prices (relative to what the normal prices in these stores are…#wink…wink), and every store that was open was filled to the brim with tons of people. So, we ended up at the Lafayette dorm, but one of the NYU security guards on duty was a real jerk about letting me in the dorm, because I wasn’t a student, and because of an earlier incident that had nothing to do me personally. So, we went back & forth, and I then decided that I was just gonna bounce because it just wasn’t worth the hassle.

I initially intended to just go home, but I then wanted to just check out the scene of Fashion’s Night out, just a little bit more, which in hindsight, I’m very much glad that I did. I ended up going back on Broadway, where I went pass the Aldo store (big up’s to Aldo). I was gonna go up further, but then I wanted some shoes, and I haven’t really bought any fresh shoes in a minute, plus I had the money. So, I just decided to treat myself. It was a worthwhile investment going to Aldo. I got these fresh smokey gray shoes, that zip up, so you dont have to un-lace your shoes every time you wanna rock them, and they have some wicked straps, so you don’t even need the laces…the best of both worlds.

Almost immediately after I came out of the Aldo store, I saw a Muslim that I knew, Marlon (Marlon is my man). He really looked out for me, because he ended up giving me a VIP pass to a Sabit event @the Samsung Experience @Columbus Circle on Friday. I was sayin’ to myself, “VIP @a Sabit event…..oh…..hell…..yeah!!!”. I ended up going home to just rest after a long day, and got ready for my huge schedule for the next day. I’ll talk about that later…..

Day 2:

On September 9th, I started off my day giving the weekly Islamic Sermon (Khutbah) @NYU-Poly in Brooklyn. Then, I chilled with some of the NYU-Poly guys for about an hour, before going to a CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) press-conference, on the eve of the 9/11 weekend. That was an interesting press-conference, mainly due to the fact that barely any news press was there that was domestic. I mean, there were no representation from Fox News, CNN, or any of these other mainstream news outlets. Oh yeah, that’s right, they only wanna cover things about Muslims doing negative stuff, not positive, yeah that’s it.

Anyway, after some good interviews which I, personally, participated , I proceeded to the Samsung Experience @Columbus Circle for the Sabit NYC sashion-show. It was just amazing to say the least (Sabit NYC rocks…..for real). Sabit really did their thing on Friday night, showcasing an amazing Fall/Winter & Spring/Summer collection that are must-haves in anyone’s closets. I actually ended up meeting Shoichi Amemiya, the owner & founder of Sabit NYC, along with one of his children. Let me tell you, it’s a really good feeling to actually meet someone who has made something that you take pride in wearing. And, likewise, it’s a great feeling for them to know that so many people show up to these shows, who appreciate the clothing that these designers produce.

Basically, everything in the collection was boss!!! I was truly impressed by the designs themselves, color-schemes, fabric choices, it’s all just slammin’!!! In fact, my boy Marlon was there too, workin’ behind the scenes, as only he can. I also linked up with a Muslim guy from LIU (Long Island University), he’s a great photographer by the way (kudows to my main-man, Kazi…..I see you, son). I also meet up with one of my former College cohorts, Alan Mildor (if you don’t know who he is, you need to find out…..just Google his name, he’s the man).

We were all just chillin’ choppin’ up, enjoyin’ the show. It was a real treat to be at a fashion-show of this calibar & magnitude. And, for me as a Muslim & an up-coming designer myself, it gave me a different, realistic insight into how the Fashion-World works, from an aspect of presentation. Presentation does in fact mean everything in the Fashion-World, and there’s no room for error…..at all!!!

This experience left an impression on my mind & in my heart, that reinforced my commitment to provide proper representation of Muslims (especially those of us who live in predominantly Non-Muslim countries) a sense of self-definition when it comes to fashion. Unfortunately, for us as Muslims (particularly & especially Muslim men), there so many different aspects of Islam that are just randomly dictated to us, via foreign influences (i.e. the rest of the Muslim-World, specifically the Arab-World), which imply that we’re not good enough Muslims to give ourselves any form of self-definition, particularly in the realm of fashion.

I have a more clear vision of what my mission is: it’s to further contribute to the self-definition of Muslims in the West, from a fashion perspective, and to provide a clothing line that meets the needs of all Muslims generally seeking self-definition. While I was talking to my boy Alan, he told me about to other fashion events, one in Brooklyn, the other in Manhattan over the 9/11 weekend. So, I said to myself, “I’m there!!!”. We’ll talk about those two events in a later…..

Day 3:

On September 10th, the next event that I ended up going to was way out in the boonies, near the border of Bed-Stuy & Williamsburg. It was a rooftop fashion event, hosted by the company Monkey Face Apparel. It was pretty dope, I got there around 10pm. & stayed until around 11:30pm. It was a really cool crowd, the weather outside was great (which provided a terrific atmosphere for the event itself since it was in fact on a rooftop) & the designs for their clothes were pretty unique & fresh. That night was pretty basic, so nothing much happened after I had left. I just went home & got some rest, to get ready for the event on my agenda for the weekend. Well talk about that later…..

Day 4:

On Sunday, Spetember 11th, during the last day of the weekend, I made my way to an event on Grand St. (near the border of SOHO & Little Italy). It was a photo-shoot event, hosted by Nice In Harlem (much props to Nice for hosting a very dope event…..great job Nice). There all types of other up & coming fashion artists at this event that I connected with, such as myself, who were using this grand opportunity to acquire any type of exposure, from as many venues as we possibly could. In this business, like in other industries, you really have to present/market/sell yourself well.

As exclusive as some of these events are and/or maybe, if you are a rookie, or established fashion artist, and have an opportunity to attend any of these Fashion-Week events, then you owe it to yourself to be where the action is & get in the mix. This event was definitely a cool way to end off my hectic, yet worthwhile, weekend. Honestly, I haven’t had a weekend in NYC this exciting or exhilarating in a long time.

There are more events that I plan on attending, but I may or may not write about those. We’ll see how well they turn out first. Until then…..stay tuned.

#I’m just sayin’!!!