Fashion and Identity
and why they matter by Yassin Boutayeb
As someone with a Moroccan background living in Germany and especially as a third-generation immigrant, the search for identity, a rather fluid concept of what heimat is, and an appreciation for cultural heritage have always been major themes in my life.
In my experience, being from different countries can sometimes make us feel torn between two cultures as we are growing beyond borders. Clothing, has a way of representing part of our identity and can play a huge role.
Discovering who we are does not happen overnight. Nor does it necessarily stay the same over time. This journey can feel all the more essential for those in the Diaspora, LGBTQIA+ and many other groups.
It’s a long journey but it’s also the absolute best journey. I feel like every month, every year I keep learning more about myself, my identity, and how I want to express myself, and I look forward to doing that for the rest of my life. It’s all a process of figuring out small things that make you feel more comfortable and happier – they come together slowly, it’s not something that’s going to happen all at once.
My fashion brand YDIASPORA refers to the experience of diaspora communities. These are people who find themselves living outside their shared country of origin or ancestry. This often leads to an ambivalence of cultural identities and a lack of belongingness.
With my brand and especially my collection called “El Medina” I want to express this “in-betweenness” of combined cultures. I want to fuse past cultural heritage with recent international trends. I seek to express these layers of cultural influences through fashion.
I noticed, especially in the fashion industry, there isn’t more space provided for concepts that represent these mixed feelings of belonging.
“El Medina” specifically refers to my own ethnic background in merging traditional Moroccan fabrics and patterns with modern denim looks. All the denim pieces are up-cycled from old jeans and repurposed in a new way. As a person who cares deeply about our environment, promoting sustainability will always be a part of my corporate mission statement.
As I have grown up and become more comfortable with who I am and discovered my own identity, my style choices have evolved as I have become comfortable with who I am and what I want to represent.
I am Yassin a child of the diaspora.
Academy Fellow 2021