Yasmin Jay: I Didn’t See Myself in Media Growing Up, I Became a Fashion Designer to Change That
Matrix and NYX Cosmetics have teamed up with POPSUGAR Australia to bring you the Unstoppable Class of 2023. Together, we’re dedicated to heroing the voices of women, people who identify as women, and non-binary people who are powering a brighter future and making an important difference – because the next gen is unstoppable. We will deliver personal essays from the individuals who are making a name for themselves. You can find all the pieces here.
The year is 2028. I hope you’re flying somewhere fun for Fashion Week! People all over the world are anticipating your next collection. Your inbox is flooded with messages from young girls you’ve inspired. And your followers are not just the ones from Instagram, but a collective community of people who resonate with how your roots and heritage are so deeply embedded in the work you do.
As I embark on this reflection about my life, loves, and aspirations, I remind myself I am a proud second-generation Lebanese-Australian, blending the rich and vibrant traditions of both my cultures in my work as a fashion designer and influencer. I draw inspiration from the bold hues of Western fashion, while incorporating the timeless elegance and cultural significance of Middle Eastern attire, creating a harmonious fusion of my heritage.
Growing up, I searched constantly for representation in the media. Public figures I saw on TV didn’t look like me or share my experiences and perspectives, which left me feeling disconnected and unseen.
That’s why I made it my mission to become the role model I needed when I was younger. I want my work and career to be relatable and accessible to younger girls seeking a sense of belonging, but also wanting to stand out. And BTW, these concepts are not contradicting, they can easily be synonymous with the right encouragement and support. That is the driving force behind my brand, and the reason it was born.
Yasmin Jay the label fuses modesty, gravitas and charm to inspire women to feel confident in their identity and style. Balancing between my Lebanese heritage and my Western upbringing creates a unique identity that transcends both cultures. Fashion is my catalyst to bridge the gap between my two cultures and to inspire others to do the same through their passion just like I have.
One of my biggest goals as a Middle Eastern/Australian designer is to create a movement to re-define mainstream fashion. I am sure you’ve reached some pretty impressive milestones by now, like selling your clothes globally, creating awareness at conferences and travelling to the next set of textiles ready for design.
Fashion is slowly moving from cookie cutter and tick a box, to unique identities and diverse expression. Clothing that’s niche based is always considered diverse, but by the time I read this letter again, let’s aim to consider diverse fashion the norm. I hope we would have moved away from these notions by then.
For me, creativity means there is no right or wrong answer. It’s expressing yourself freely and reflecting on what you want to put out into the world. I take that notion seriously. Each detail tells a story. It’s an artistic journey that’s all about pushing the boundaries and challenging the norms.
And that’s where the conversation should really start. Women want to feel confident and heart. The aim is to be a voice for my community, to breakdown mainstream stereotypes and inspire the youth who are figuring out their identity. Women worldwide are influenced by their upbringings, culture, families, and surroundings. But at the same time, we’re the pillars of society and yield much power to support each other and make change.
In five years time, I hope I am sitting at a table with women from all walks of life and discussing how our passions (whether they be fashion, cooking, writing, producing) bring our communities together and how they can support our homelands, like Lebanon, Turkey and Syria experiencing extreme turmoil, poverty and crisis right now. I hope we’ve contributed to their recovery and continue raising awareness for their upcoming generations who just want the same chances and opportunities as us.
There are three things I will consistently channel to thrive. Wherever, I am in my timeline, they will always be relevant, applicable, and grounding:
View this post on Instagram
1. Stay Authentic
I learned it’s crucial to maintain authenticity in all that you do. People are more inclined to gravitate to those who are genuine in what they do. Very early on in my journey I told myself to not use high profile individuals as the standard, just keep pushing yourself to be the best possible version of you, and don’t give up. Be your own trendsetter and own your style! Looking for inspo is totally okay but make sure you add your own unique twist. That’s what will set you apart. People say fashion is frivolous, but when you see diversity and inclusivity, it does make a difference.
2. Hard Work Beats Talent
If I were to look back at myself five years ago and was asked if my aspirations would come to fruition, I would have replied with a resounding no. Yet, here I am today, proud of all that I have accomplished, surpassing even my wildest dreams and goals.
I am a firm believer that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Keeping a positive attitude and staying confident, even in the face of obstacles, is key to success. It’s important to stay focused on your goals and the reasons why you started this journey in the first place. With unwavering faith in yourself and your abilities, you can achieve greatness.
3. Have Faith in Who I Am
My faith is what gives me trust in myself and where I am headed. This is a reminder that everything happens for a reason, failure is just a dysphemism for growth and struggle and success is part of the adventure. I want to look back and be proud of my strength during the difficult times, and my contributions to society. It’s not just about clothes, it’s about telling a story. Preserving my heritage is a core aspect of my identity, and I strive to pay homage to it through my designs. I want to shed light on the rich cultural heritage of Lebanon and keep its beauty alive for generations to come.
It is the cornerstone of who I am and I will always keep its traditions, values and customs close to my heart.
The vision for Yasmin Jay will always be to encourage women who enjoy modest fashion to feel confident, empowered, and elevated when they wear one of my pieces, no matter who they are or where they come from. I hope I reach women worldwide through my label which carries more than just sizes. They carry my story and my roots.
View this post on Instagram
The reality is that I am still on a journey of self-discovery, and I anticipate that in five years from now, I will still be uncovering new things about myself. Personal growth is a lifelong process, and I am committed to embracing it every step of the way. And with all my aspirations for the future, I cannot predict what the outcome will be, but I am eager and thrilled to see where this journey takes me.
You can follow Yasmin Jay on Instagram.