I remember really well the first time I saw her picture. A hijabi women wearing a Turban in really unique, elegant way with a big smile on her face. It was Saira, hijabi fashion blogger, or Shazaira on Instagram. It was around two years ago, while I was scrolling through Instagram. Ever since then, her account has always put a smile on my face, for a reason I'm not sure of. It was not only her elegance that inspired me, but there was always something subtle in her photos that made me feel joy and happiness. So this year I decided to reach out to her, to talk about her journey in the fashion world and her photography.
1. Let's start with an introduction to our audience. What would you like them to know about you?
Hiya! My name is Saira Arshad; I go by ‘shazaira’ on Instagram! I am a Canadian expat who has been between Kuwait, Dubai, and Toronto for the past 6 years. I’m a self-proclaimed nomad who loves to travel and take a million pictures at once, sharing the things I love with the world!
2. What inspired you to take your passion for fashion and travel to social media and making your content public?
I began blogging when I moved to Kuwait to share some of my experiences with friends and family back home, and then it naturally evolved into Instagram where I was able to share more outfits and looks I enjoyed wearing. I had also started wearing my hijab in a turban-style at the time and noticed Instagram particularly had a wider reach to people around the world who began to like what I posted, which was great. I’ve always said that my postings are a reflection of things I love and want to share with others, and if they like it great. If not, that’s also okay, but even if it helps or inspires one person, or one person finds a blogpost interesting, I am content!
3. Since becoming a Hijabi fashion blogger, what is the most common question you get from your followers?
This would have to be ‘how can you afford to travel so much?’ and ‘can you do a turban tutorial?’
4. From where or who do you take inspiration when it comes to your style?
Everywhere and anywhere! I think over the years I’ve developed a much better understanding of what works for me and my body and the look I’m trying to achieve. My travels and experiencing different cultures and cultural dress is definitely a source of inspo, alongside fellow Instagram bloggers. Comfort is also key when it comes to what I wear; if it’s not something I can be functional in for the day it’s usually a pass regardless of how stylish it might be haha.
5. You have a very unique turban wrap, that we found very special and interesting. Did you start playing around with your Hijab until you found something that suits your style, or how did it come about?
Thank you! Yes definitely started playing around with it! For me, Ascia (from Kuwait) was definitely a major inspo for turbans alongside Dina Tokio. The evolution of my own turban has been quite a journey, from 3 pins to none haha, but I think playing around with styles until you find one which suits you, your face and level of comfort is something I’d always recommend to people. I often receive messages from girls who try my tutorials and send me a photo saying it doesn’t look the same lol, but everyone has different face shapes and a massive bow on ones head isn’t always ‘the look' you’re going for!
6. In your opinion what were the biggest changes and what's still missing in the fashion industry when it comes to Hijab?
I think the gap is getting better but we’re definitely not at a point where hijab is on equal grounds in the fashion industry when it comes to genuine representation, and not just trying to tick a quota box. I would definitely recommend a book by Hafsa Lodi called ‘Modesty: A Fashion Paradox’ which provides great insight into the world of hijab and modesty!
7. What do aspire to contribute to the fashion industry?
I think a sense of normalcy. That it’s possible to wear what I choose to on my head and dress the way I want, and for it to be just as ‘normal’ as someone who chooses not to cover.
8. You travel to a lot of Arab countries. Which is the most memorable? And what did you learn the most from your travels there?
Each one has a special place in my heart alongside the people I met there and the memories created. Kuwait will always feel like home to me because that’s where I feel I truly grew as a person and essentially spent a good chunk of my 20’s in. It’s streets and sounds are familiar and I find myself missing it loads since I’ve left. The natural beauty of Oman and its street food is my favorite, but nothing also compares to how breathtaking Petra is in real life. The UAE is a magical place where you can truly experience little pockets of the world under one roof and again another place where quickly feels like home. They’re all my favorite haha but one thing I’ve learnt is that nothing truly compares to Middle Eastern hospitality and the genuine love and warmth embedded in the culture.
9. Your photography and travel journal sheds a lot of light on the beauty of culture and people. How and when did that passion and eye for that style of photography come about?
I’ve always loved taking photos of people when I travel, specifically to showcase the country and peoples in as natural and candid of a way as possible. For me that’s where the true essence of beauty of a culture and peoples lies and it’s what I want to share with my audiences. Markets and side streets are some of my favorite places to visit and just shoot in as it’s all very much so part of everyday life which is beautiful in its own way. I don’t like to curate photos in order to showcase the beauty of a country because that takes away from the pure naturalness of a moment.
10. What do you wish to bring to someone’s day when they scroll through your content?
A smile! I always want my content, be it a post or story, to bring a smile to someone's face and heart, to provide some kind of inspiration, or invoke thinkings about not taking life too seriously!
All Image Credits: Instagram @shazaira