The work of a social media influencer is much wider than it seems on our mobile screens, and the complexity increases when it comes to fashion. They have to be constantly updated with changing trends, while keeping the content relevant as the curve shifts from one to another. Among the most-followed fashion influencers is Masoom Minawala Mehta. She started blogging in 2010 as Miss Style Fiesta and grew day by day to feature on the covers of many magazines. Mehta, who works with some of the biggest fashion, lifestyle and luxury brands around the globe, is also involved in many women-oriented campaigns and initiatives. Edited excerpts from her exclusive interview by Mohd Urooj Siddique:
Q) There is prejudice against fashion in India. Do you agree?
Yes, fashion is not exactly the most accepted category or industry when it comes to India. This definitely makes it the least accepted choice of career too. But I think fashion is now starting to majorly evolve in the country. When I was starting out in this domain, I was about 16 or 17 years of age and had no options as such in fashion. All that was available as a career choice in fashion was designing, and I didn’t want to do that. Fashion is a vast industry with many different professions under its umbrella. I wanted to do something in the industry and I definitely wanted to be educated in it, but I was restricted by the lack of resources. I really wish back then I had the many options that are available today. It would have helped me better in my journey for sure.
Q) Growing up as a child, what or who inspired you to venture into the fashion industry?
Growing up, I was not at all interested in fashion. I loved sports, reading and art. My interest in fashion only developed over time. And I could say that I myself was my inspiration to venture into the industry. It was in 12th grade when I suddenly started to develop more interest in fashion and got this desire to explore it. That was also the time when fashion blogging was starting to become a well-known concept in the country. I started with an internship with a fashion designer, but what really fuelled my ambition was blogging, which I started solely as a hobby. I would revamp my wardrobe, style myself and post pictures on social media. This was my way of exploring fashion as a hobby. Little did I know that it would also turn into an inspiration of sorts for me to make it my career.
Q) What is your take on ‘reusable fashion’ and ‘minimalist fashion’?
I believe reusable fashion is not just the need of the hour, but also something to fuel my creativity. There is nothing as challenging and equally creative than repurposing old clothes in different ways. I often do that by reusing my sarees to create new and offbeat looks! Nevertheless, the industry and the world today need to actively adopt sustainable ways, and reusable fashion is a very important way to do so. I believe this is not even a choice; it doesn’t have to be. It should be a need and an integral pillar of fashion. As for minimalist fashion, the phrase ‘less is more’ instantly comes to mind. There is a certain kind of elegance in playing it light and subtle. Minimal is mostly magnificent, and this current trend certainly proves it. I believe that in some ways I have followed this trend long before it even became one.
Q) How did the idea of your portal Style Fiesta come to your mind and how is it different from the many similar ones existing today?
I was a teen when I discovered my love and interest in fashion. By the time I headed to London to pursue formal education in fashion, it was an established goal in my head. When I came back to Mumbai, I knew what the next step was for me. I already had a blog with a consistent and loyal readership. Of course, as a way forward, I wanted to monetise it. At the same time, I noticed this gap in the Indian market, where international fashion and trends were not available at accessible price points here. There were global brands available that were luxury and the local labels that were affordable were not exactly matching international trends. That is when Style Fiesta took form. All I had to do was convert my existing readers into customers, and bridge that gap between accessibility, affordability and availability of global trends in India. The thing that set it apart from others would be the individualism and a sense of comfort that I wanted to exude through the platform.
Q) With many people trying to force themselves to fit in with an existing trend, what is your advice on the importance of carrying the fashion you adopt?
You cannot look and feel good in something unless you really experience something in it. Be it a sense of empowerment, happiness or just any positive emotion. Whatever you wear needs to trigger a warm emotion inside you. I say this to everyone. Everyone has their personal styles, and when trends come and go, the only thing you got to do is fit that seamlessly with your existing style. Blend it to the extent that it feels comfortable and like ‘yourself.’ Own your individual style and just make sure you are not compromising on that and your comfort.
Q) Many girls look up to influencers like you or to other fashionistas for inspiration. What do you want to convey to those who carry a hidden talent, but fear coming out because of their conventional backgrounds?
The world has changed so much since the time I was starting out in fashion. Today, there is no lack of resources, opportunities and options. But if fear hampers someone’s talent from being optimised, I would only say two things. One is that you better fight that fear and do what you want to do now rather than sitting at your desk years later with deep regret of not even trying. Secondly, as much as we want to pursue our dreams, having some practicality in our plan is also important. Today, it is totally feasible to pursue your passion as a side-hustle while having a back-up career or job too. So, I would say, plan it out, but don’t refrain from trying and exploring.
Q) Drawing inspiration each day to work equally creatively, especially during the ongoing pandemic that also brings depression and self-doubt, seems a difficult job. Is it so for you too? From what do you draw your inspiration?
Yes, it has been difficult to keep doing what you do with all this happening around you. At the same time, I realise that as an influencer, I hold a responsibility to influence my audience to get through this. That is exactly what inspires me to keep going and keep churning out content that helps, inspires and entertains them. I wouldn’t deny there are days when I just don’t feel it and I am not inspired to show up at all. But what does make me show up is the fact that my presence and me taking control today could bring some change in my audience’s life this very moment.
Q) How has the growth of your portal been, and how has it helped you grow, mature or hone your skills as an individual?
This job did not even exist some years ago. It has only become a full-time profession in the last decade. It is still so new and hence scary at times. That is what has taught me more than anything else could. Today, as a blogger, I am my own stylist, my own director, my own production assistant, and even my own photographer sometimes. I have learnt to play so many roles in one and I could attribute this to my multitasking skills. One day you are a cinematographer, then an entrepreneur managing a big team, and then a public speaker hoping to create an impact on an audience of a million people. A blogger has many job roles and many skills to put to use. It is not just a matter of one or two skills or one or two roles. I need to have a good command over so many different skills and also keep learning through the course. In the end, all these roles and aptitudes need to tie in together to create the final result that you all can see today.