One of the most distinguished concepts I have worked on recently is Misbah.
It is a fashion store that is catering women dressing needs in UAE and Europe.
A loyal base is already buying from Misbah due to their artistic apparel.
The distinct factor of Misbah is their clothing range which is strongly focused
on aligning contemporary yet modest clothing.
Contemporary yet modest.
In retrospect there seems quite a bit of contrast in these two terms. Modern art and culture is focused on keeping thing to the point and stripped down to their core and this becomes apparent when we study current trends.
The world has become ultra-noisy and this is also apparent in design. The skeuomorphism was shunned and flat went on the rise. Metro design by Microsoft is one of the great examples of companies realizing the abundance of information and trying their best to keep the information simple and to the point. When you have too many devices and all are trying to have your attention at once then usability principles force you to put beautification at the back and let content take the whole stage.
Now, we are minimalists and that’s what our dressing mimics. Less clothes, more skin has become the norm for current fashion and aside from categorizing this into right or wrong, it is a fact the more and more apparel manufactures are riding this wave.
Misbah is an opposition to this force that translates modern to naked. I, as a designer and a minimalist, was in a bit of confusion. How does one combine the concept of modesty with modernism in 21st century?
A huge audience of Misbah (in both UAE & Europe) is Muslim but it was crucial for the founders to cater not only Muslims but others who cherish the idea that human body is sacred and fashion should strive to be modest. Portraying this idea in the modern market, especially of Europe, isn’t elementary and is quite likely to fail if put directly against the current trends.
Modesty and modernism have become inversely proportional and to equalize them, I needed a constant. If we want to rationalize a concept it is essential to look into the circumstances around which that concept evolved.
The first link of modesty we find is in the creation of Adam & Eve and this is a concept that we can find in all major religions. When Adam & Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, their eyes were opened and they saw each other naked. They then used leafs to cover them up. There was a question of why was waiting for me?
Why would somebody to try to cover something up when you don’t even know what this is.
I looked up to the recent human civilizations including African and uncontacted tribes.
All of them had this concept of hiding parts of their body. There is a concept of modesty
lying around in basic human instincts and it becomes apparent when we look at the dresses
of kings and queens irrespective of the human era we look into. The act of covering oneself
up resonates with feelings of being prestigious and in pride. This same concept is held in
all major faiths and it is further translated into being pious in them.
Modesty is natural was the answer. Human nature itself was the constant in the equation I was trying to solve.
This concept was mighty enough to become the soul voice of a brand. While distilling this idea for general audience, I took help from nature itself to support this philosophy. I had to study womanly concepts and their associations around the globe. For example, women are linked to being delicate, graceful and beautiful beings in all cultures of the world. This is also the reason pastel colors, circles, curves and calligraphy are used to depict feminine ideas in art and design.
Try to find this is in nature and we see flowers being associated with notions of beauty and delicacy.I utilized these concepts in all of the branding and kept it all artistic yet very minimal.
The logo is very delicate and clean. The two leaves are a representation of male and female. Again, Adam and Eve’s story gave me directions. Eve was created from Adam’s rib. The total pairs of rib in human body is 12. I kept the inner structures of leaves (interestingly also known as ribs) to be 11 in first in the Adam’s leaf and 12 in Eve’s leaf. These leaves are also a representation of the first act of modesty ever i.e the first humans covering themselves up with leaves. Thirdly, leaves are also associated with the ideas of being natural and organic.
The typeface used is Avenir by infamous Swiss type designer Adrian Frutiger. Developed in 1988, it was meant to be a more human version of geometric sans-serif types. This clean and open typeface contrasted the natural concepts while keeping the overall look very minimalistic and modern.
In implementation I kept the center art inverted to depict the concept of “from heavens” and “heavenly”. Fruits and flowers are used to tie the concept of Modesty as being artful, pride and full of mystery. The taglines also used the concepts that resonated with ideas of sacred body and invited the audience to defy and reject the current trends of nakedness.