By Nicole Schmidt
Hafsa Lodi began taking sewing lessons when she was nine years old.
At the time, she never imagined that one day she would have her own clothing label. But now, more than a decade later, Lodi has done just that.
As an international student currently enrolled in Ryerson’s journalism program, Lodi leads a double life. She flies into Toronto each September and immerses herself in the world of journalism. Then, each April, she flies back home to Dubai and focuses on fashion design.
When she first started, she tried to do both at the same time. But managing a clothing line while taking on a full course load proved to be overwhelming.
“It would have been hard [to do both],” says Lodi. “During the school year, I sketched out stuff as I thought of it, but other than that, I wasn’t really doing anything else with it.”
Her designs are catered towards the Muslim population, inspired by the silhouette of an abaya – a loose-fitting, robe-like garment traditionally worn by Islamic women.
Lodi says she wanted to give Muslim women more options by creating pieces that balance modesty with style and incorporate international trends and colour.
“A typical Middle-Eastern dress is all black head-to-toe,” Lodi says. “But I’m trying to give [these women] more use to that image with colour and embellishments.”
As a result, her designs often include floor-length dresses, jumpsuits, long-sleeve shirts, and items that can be easily layered.
It all started during the summer of 2011. Lodi was experimenting with clothing design by creating pieces for friends and family.
“I just started buying fabrics and making clothes,” she says.
According to Lodi, her inspiration is eye-catching prints. Whenever she sees a cool fabric, she pictures its potential to be made into something different.
“By the end of summer, I made around 30 dresses and thought, ‘What do I do from here,'” she says.
But the positive feedback she was receiving from all of those who saw her designs pushed her forward.
Lodi began talking to store owners in Dubai to see if they would be interested in selling her clothing.
She was a hit right away. The first boutique she approached, OConcept, agreed to stock her first collection.
A launch event was held to introduce the Hafsa Lodi Label, and things began to pick up from there.
After designing her second collection, she wanted to expand her client base. She approached s*uce, another boutique with three different branches. They soon began to sell her clothing as well.
Since Lodi completed her last semester of school in December, she is now back in Dubai full-time. Her new spring/summer collection, Bedouin Ballerina, will be released this month.
Now that Lodi has finished her new collection, she wants to focus on pursuing journalism.
One of her articles regarding international media coverage of honour killings featured in the Ryerson Review of Journalism, a magazinepublished by students twice a year.
“I’d love to try and do both,” she says.