This video was developed in April 2018 at a workshop with Dr. Carla Rice and her team at the ReVision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice. Thanks to the team and workshop participants who held a safe space for our creativity to bloom.

I also want to thank my academic advisor, Dr. Ben Barry, for giving me the opportunity to attend this workshop. Below is the digital story I created about me.

I hope to use this arts-based research method in my upcoming Master's research project, starting in September, stay tuned!


Featuring: Romana B Mirza, Toronto, ON

Interviewer: Hannah Fowlie

Production Team:

Romana B. Mirza
Hannah Fowlie
Ingrid Mundel
Kavya Yoganathan
Andrea LaMarre
Kimber Sider

Created with the support of:

Dr. Ben Barry, Founding Director of the Centre for Fashion Diversity and Social Change and Chair, School of Fashion at Ryerson University

Ryerson Student Union

Dedicated to my grandparents, may their strongly held ethics and values, thirst for adventure, patience, love and bravery continue to inspire us and may they all rest in peace.  إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ‎

On Instagram:

On Facebook @difineyourself

#modestfashion #diversityinfashion #hijab #muslimfashion #fashionincanada #modesty #iammodest #modestrevolution #simplycovered #chichijab #fashionmuslim #modestclothing #modeststyle #modestwear #modestymatters #modestapparel #modestroute #womensfashion #modestdesign #womensclothing #hijabfashion #hijabstyle #hijabchic #difineyourself 

In the aftermath of the Burkini™ bans in France in the summer of 2016 and in anticipation of submitting a research paper to Ryerson University's admissions department, I embarked on a research project to understand the swimwear choices of Muslim and non-Muslim women. The survey was received with a lot of enthusiasm. Through a network of friends, family and social media, responses were received from around the world. This an analysis of the responses from North America.



Regular: one-piece, tankini, bikini or similar.

A large majority of Muslim women in North America, 86%, cover fully at the waterside. Seventy-three percent (73%) of women who are not Muslim wear regular swimwear. The number that is most interesting is just over one-third of women, who are not Muslim, layer their swimwear. Many comments spoke to protection from the sun, body insecurity or modest values. Some, 9% of women who are not Muslim have discovered the Burkini™ and wear it while swimming. This may be an indicator of a desire for more covered swimwear options by women who are not Muslim.



Overwhelmingly Muslim women have more freedom to spend time by the waterside with the introduction of the Burkini™ and other layering surf gear such as rash guard. Almost one-third (27%) of women who are not Muslim feel freer to spend time at the waterside. This is a large number considering these women have no cultural or religious expectations to present more modestly.



These numbers show the difference in mindset between Muslim women and women who are not Muslim. Almost half of the Muslim respondents say they don't bother to notice or don't care. They have made a psychological shift to remove their mind from the consequences of how they choose to present themselves to the world. Women who are not Muslim never get any negative looks and a small percentage don't bother noticing.



1 - NO DRAMATIC CHANGE TO 10 - TOTAL TRANSFORMATION. Muslim women scored the change in their life at 5, ranked as "some things have changed" but not a total transformation. Full-coverage swimwear has made little to no difference for women who are not Muslim.


Those women who cover more or layer at the waterside for sun protection, modesty or their own reasons described how they layer, this is a representation of their layering descriptions.
Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

#modesty #modest #iammodest #modestrevolution #simplycovered #chichijab #fashionmuslim #modestclothing #modeststyle #modestwear #modestymatters #modestapparel #modestroute #womensfashion #modestdesign #womensclothing #hijabfashion #hijabstyle #hijabchic #difineyourself #burkini #burqini #modestswimwear #modestbythebeach #modestbeachwear

...light once gave objects of the world their shape.
from Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear

After a 30-year marketing career spent hiring, managing and directing creative professionals I, in my 2nd semester MA Fashion program, get the chance to stand in their shoes. I learned that the creative process can be very different when no client is present. In this experience, my creativity came from within me. There were no clients or external influencers setting expectations for the outcome(s) of my creative work.

In this Studio Workshop class, we were taken through three stages of creative experience.

Who's on First?

The first creative exercise was "mark and respond" with a partner, one sheet of paper, one thick marker and one thin marker. I started and nervously drew a bold curved line on the page. Beginning where I ended, my partner responded with a thin squiggly line. We continued until our marks became calls to action and responses. I drew a pair of thick lines, she added a boot to one end. I drew a line with multiple S-shapes, she turned it into a snake. We were now in dialogue and my partner's responses boosted my confidence. Our practice evolved from simply marking and responding, to calling and responding, to creating. It was organic. It was an evolution. It was the maturing of a relationship through creative exploration.

Mark and Respond

I Got Rhythm!

The second exercise was individual work with text. Working with the quote shown at the top of this post, the task was to communicate the rhythm and cadence of the text visually. It took six iterations to get to a layout and overall design that gave meaning to the text. In the first iteration, I knew the word 'objects' would show heavily as my personal belief is objects lay a heavy burden on our planet. Being unfamiliar with the quote, I was unsure as to the weight and significance of the other words. This material exploration influenced my response to the text as I came to know the words better and how they relate. This short audio-visual journey illustrates the impact this material exploration had on my relationship to the text.

Can you hear my comfort with the text evolve?

Text as Object

The last visual iteration of the rhythm and cadence of this quote spoke to me and it said,

Text becomes Object

"I am an object."

The origami folds were inspired by this message and the quote itself became a three-dimensional object.

As I made decisions through each iteration. I wondered how the process and outcome would have changed if I had a client telling me what was important to them. In this moment I think I began to understand the difference between art and design.

What do you mean?

The last exploration added the responsibility of considering layout and aesthetics to communicate the meaning of the text. I chose a quote that, for 10 years, has been the driving force behind my work as a brand strategist.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde

Since our instructions were to create by adding, I took creative license and removed the word 'already' from the quote. As a linear thinker, I laid down my brightly coloured background first. The word "BE" took prominence on the page. Paired with 'yourself,' on the same colour background, this coupling became a strong call to action to live authentically and firmly with one's own beliefs.

Then, laid on its own background colour, 'everyone else is' became the pathway to the real message. 

I wanted the real message 'taken' to appear on the bright pink backdrop because of the significance 'taken' has for me. To be true to oneself comes from being yourself because being someone else is not possible. Everyone else is truly taken. Engaging visually with the text was about conveying this message.

To remain loyal to the process of creating by adding, I digitized the artwork then added the word 'taken.' Reversing negative space out of the bright pink field gave the word more prominence versus appearing on top of the background colour, as was done with the black letters above. Additionally, the digital format expanded my ability to affect typeface, font size and placement.

Final Composition

Connections and Conclusions

For me, the connections between the various stages of creative exploration can be summarized in three words: confidence, dialogue, and expression.

CONFIDENCE building, with a partner, like having training wheels. (Mark and Respond)

DIALOGUE with one's own creative mind's eye honed my ability to visualize textual expression. (Rhythm and Cadence)

EXPRESSION, the ability to communicate one's beliefs and values visually through text. (Material Exploration and Visual Representation)

Aziz, in her article, referenced below, says "the experience of making ... set me on a trajectory towards exploring the interplay between sound and image" (74). I felt like I had the same experience. The experience of making through exploring the text visually deepened my understanding of the text and how it can be communicated through sounds and the images I was creating. An early exploration of this curiosity is demonstrated in the audio-visual clip above.

Aziz, T. (2009), ‘Shifting the frame: from critical reflective arts practice to practice-based research’,
     Journal of Media Practice 10: 1, pp. 69–80, doi: 10.1386/jmpr.10.1.69/1

The Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) and I have been hard at work for months developing what we believe is one of the most comprehensive and wide-reaching modest fashion consumer insights surveys of its kind. The survey is now officially launched! I encourage all readers to click the image or this link to take the survey and please forward the link along to your friends, family, and networks.

We all know what incredible growth the modest fashion movement, revolution and industry has seen and will continue to see in the years to come. The focus of my work as a researcher is to keep my finger on the pulse of what the modest fashion consumer is thinking, their evaluation of the industry, its brands and the gaps. What is missing? What is needed? What do you love? What is working?

I've developed a special Style Advisory Committee (SAC) made up of modest fashion consumers just like you. Sign up today to continue to influence and be a voice for modest fashion.

To learn more about IFDC's Pret-A-Cover Buyer's Lane event where findings from the survey will be released, click here.

Email me anytime with questions and your comments.

All my best,
#modesty #iammodest #modestrevolution #simplycovered #chichijab #fashionmuslim #modestclothing #modeststyle #modestwear #modestymatters #modestapparel #modestroute #womensfashion #modestdesign #womensclothing #difineyourself #PreACoverBuyersLane #IFDC

YOU STEPPED UP!  You have vision, tenacity and you are doing it!  You may have launched your business, it's an idea you're still perfecting or you're well on your way.

It's time now for US to step up for you.

In partnership with the International Modest Fashion and Design Festival, difine yourself by Romana Mirza have come together to develop this short survey to understand your needs - the modest fashion entrepreneur.

At around 1:30 pm on Saturday Aug 26 at the IMFDF Romana will be giving a talk titled "She's the Boss" many of the topics in the survey will be covered in this short workshop.

What we are looking for is you, the modest fashion entrepreneur, to provide us with information on what you need.  We can't read your mind so please tell us what is on your mind?

Help us help you.  You've stepped up, let us step up and help you!

We will provide programming and content to support you on your enterpreneurial journey in the areas of marketing/pr/branding, operations, production, business management, finance & accounting, merchandising, distribution and so much more - tell us what you need and let's do this together!

Fill out the survey right here:

Use the links below to share this post widely.

It's just a few weeks away, don't miss Toronto's 4th Annual International Modest Fashion and Design Festival (IMFDF).

I have the great pleasure of heading up media relations for this amazing show.  We have put together a comprehensive digital media kit with all our releases, background info, and photography.  All our media relations work would not be possible without our amazing summer intern from Guelph/Humber's journalism program Ms Haafizah Khaderoo.

Below are some of Haafizah's videos from last year's show - take a sneak peek here:




WSGN recently published a blog posting on sustainable fashion reporting that sales of sustainable fashion has increased by 19% so far in 2017.  It names a few brands that has lauched sustainable collections, among them Mango and Zara.

In the book Generation M, about modern Muslim consumers who live a life that mixes modernity with faith, there is discussion about this growing demographics' demand for tayyab, or ethically-made product.  The question is how intense the demand is for sustainability in modest fashion.  In a survey that the International Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) is releasing in the coming days, we've asked this question.

The survey is the first of its kind targeting modest fashion consumers to understand their needs, frustrations and desires when it comes to dressing modestly.

I'll keep you posted on the results here.

Oh, and by the way, the WSGN posting featured this image which I thought was a great addition to any modest fashion wardrobe.

from: Manog's Committed sustainable collection.

A book about the young influential generation of Muslims worldwide, Generation M, talks about the spread of Gulf culture in

"the latter part of the twentieth century...signs include the proliferation among Muslim women around the world of the Gulf style of dressing, such as abayas and black clothing."  

It's true, I've seen women from many Muslim-majority countries abandon their own cultural dressing norms to adopt the flowing long coat, abaya, and wear black, when in their own lifetime wearing black was seen to be outright dreadful.

Sies Markjan F/W 16
WSGN recently posted a great piece on fashion brands at the forefront of incorporating colour into their collections. Among them Sies Marjan, Finery and Rejina Pyo. All these collections featured silhouettes suitable for the modest fashion customer. In particular I loved this Sies Marjan blue and lilac combination.

Modesty and colour, do you think they mix well together?

#modestfashion #modesty #fashionandcolor #modestrevolution #fashionista #modeststyle #modestwear #modestdesign #modestapparel #modestyroute #stylish #colour #color #fashiondiaries #fashionstyle #style #trend #fashionpost #designer #fashionable #trendy #chic #modestchic #design #greatdesign

The Islamic Fashion & Design Council (IFDC) is pleased to announce its recently recruited Senior Researcher, Romana Mirza. On behalf of IFDC, Ms. Mirza will lead, speak on, and present modest fashion research findings on a global scale. IFDC Chairwoman, Alia Khan, states, “We are very excited to welcome Romana. We are always seeking talented individuals to help us in our quest to advance the industry. I believe she will make a wonderful asset to our mission.”

Ms. Mirza has been in the marketing and branding business for thirty years. Her background entails running a brand strategy firm, developing proprietary products, conceiving innovative events and launching international brands in design-related industries such as architecture, interior design and furniture. A researcher and brand strategist, her work involves conducting research and providing insights to support entrepreneurs, consumers and media within the modest fashion industry. She also manages a blog, providing insightful content discussing trends, brands and marketing topics.

According to Ms. Mirza, “The modest fashion industry is burgeoning with no slow-down in sight. Objective research, analysis and reporting is needed to understand and support this industry and its growth. There is limited information and understanding about the modest fashion market's scope and potential. My plan is to optimize this work through my role at IFDC.”

Furthermore, starting in September, Ms. Mirza will be joining a select group of students in Ryerson University’s, Faculty of Communication and Design, School of Fashion as she has been awarded the highly competitive Ryerson Graduate Fellowship to pursue her Master of Arts in Fashion. Surprisingly, Ryerson University is the only university in Canada to provide a Masters in a fashion discipline, making this a very unique opportunity for Ms. Mirza. Here, she will be able to conduct research for various courses, academic pursuits, and her graduating thesis: Fashion, Feminism, Modesty and a Woman's Right to Choose. Her research topic not only sparked the interest of the program’s director, affirming its relevance to today’s cultural climate, but it also further compelled IFDC Chairwoman, Alia Khan to offer Ms. Mirza her senior appointment at IFDC.

Ms. Mirza’s first point of focus for IFDC will be the upcoming release of the first consumer insights survey regarding modest fashion. To learn more about the market, Ms. Mirza has assembled the first survey of its kind addressing much needed answers surrounding modest brands, shopping habits, and demands. The modest fashion industry is undergoing a steep growth, yet industry players are still lacking the information they need to pursue consumer objectives. This survey will significantly help IFDC and its industry players understand the modest fashion market and solve the many mysteries surrounding it.
Also follow Romana Mirza on Instagram @rbmirza and Twitter @romana_mirza

About IFDC
Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC) is the world’s leading modest fashion and design council representing the Islamic economy and its stakeholders. IFDC, a leading advocate for Islamic fashion, art and design professionals and aspiring talent, has an array of products, services, and effective training programs for all levels. Our platform is designed to ensure the success of Islamic fashion and design in the global marketplace as we facilitate the industry players in accessing the vast growth potential. IFDC aligns itself with leading and budding mainstream and Islamic fashion and design brands, government organizations, institutions, corporations, media, global conferences, events, and fashion weeks to ensure a powerful, sustainable and supportive presence. With our headquarters in NYC, IFDC currently has offices in 10 countries and continuously growing. For more information please visit, or contact us at for details regarding IFDC events and/or media opportunities.

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