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?

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.

I am in Pasadena, CA this week and lectured at the Art Center School of Design yesterday to a Brand Strategies class that is taught by Sherry Hoffman of M)Arch, a firm that specializes in branded architecture.

Over lunch we were talking about our experiences with the creative process when developing visual identities and how different graphic designers' approaches can be. Some designers have an incredibly strong intuitive sense for what will work, their experience and this design sense launches them to a solution immediately. On the other hand there are designers who, even though their intuition is guiding them, work more collaboratively and allow their client to be integrated into the design thinking process.

In my work I engage in a creative process that leads to a brand strategy. After doing all my research and interviews I have a strong idea of what an organization's IDEAL strategy and positioning should be for its brand. I can present this and feel very confident of its success, if executed in the spirit of the strategic approach. Or, I can bring the client along with me on the journey. Sure we will hit crossroads along the way, have heated debates...and the end result will not be what my intuition and deep experience would have lead us...but there is a difference, a few big differences in the two approaches. I have lived 20 years as a client and experienced both the intuitive-design approach and the collaborative approach. This is how it felt to me as a client.Perhaps that collaborative process won't get the absolutely ideal result. What it will deliver is a collaborative team effort that everyone is bought into. Everyone is on board and that momentum will drive even greater success in the execution. After all a great design or a great strategy is nothing without the execution.

Since 2004 we have heard the consistent, repeated call to recognize not a "blue America" or a "red America" but to recognize a United States of America. Repeatedly. Consistently. This message has prevailed throughout the campaign and now coming up to the inauguration.

Woven into this message and spoken clearly from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday by Obama, an invitation to find ourselves in one another. It's the ultimate strategy. It's not a brand strategy, not a business strategy, it's a strategy for change, for growth, for renewal, a strategy we are all hoping works.

"...if we could just recognize ourselves in one another..." Indeed.

So what's the brand marketing takeaway?

If you don't know yourself the strategy fails. If you don't know who you are - as a person, as a company, as an organization then how can you find it in another? Knowing yourself is where you begin. It is where your connections begin. Know who you are, the rest will follow.

When you’re really stuck, when you feel like you don’t know what could possibly be different about your business, where do you turn? In an earlier posting I talked about how a brand can be developed from one word, the word emerges from the essence of the business. Another way to get there is to look at your strengths and use that strength or those strengths as the core idea for developing your brand.

A good clue to what your strengths may be is to look at what you feel competitors have learned from you and copied.

The key here is to realize that what everyone has copied is a clue to your true strength.

In recent work with a consumer-facing service business all competitors in this 400,000 population city borrowed from one another and eventually all became the same. One business, founded in the 1970s, started the business on the principles of exceptional customer service. Eventually everyone was talking about that. In the 1980s businesses opened up promising glamour, in the 1990s the promise was edginess, different for the sake of it. In the new millennium a business opened offering added value services and personalized care, bringing high-end sought-after product into the market. In the last eight years all the city’s businesses have now adopted this. So, what differentiates?

Here are the true strengths:

The 1970s business was founded by a man who was dripping with the charm and elegance of the old European world. His love of emotionally intimate relationships with his customers is his strength. Today, his business still misses the boat on this amazing and differentiated positioning for his brand.

The 1980s business perhaps was founded by someone with a keen sense of fashion and how to translate that glamour into their customer’s everyday lives. This business has abandoned that strength and is using the latest messaging to attract customers. It’s too bad, translating glamour into the everyday is magical and a differentiated positioning.

The 1990s business perhaps was founded by someone motivated and inspired by change.

The business founded in the new millennium? The added value services were inspired by a value system held deeply by the founder to share. Even the compensation system for his staff was designed on a system of sharing and not singularly-focused commissions like all his competitors. Today their brand is singularly differentiated. And, it’s a positioning that the competition will not be able to copy. Why? Because their brand positioning is based on a deeply held value system, it IS who they are, and you can’t just copy that.

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