My Style: Nadia Issa

Photography by Sarah Currinder

Nadia Issa is a full time college student and fashion influencer who strives to promote modesty, uniqueness, and positive body image in all of her content. She is a junior at Butler University, juggling classes and the demanding lifestyle being an influencer entails. Her brand is all about being true and looking up to yourself and loving your body. Nadia strives to achieve this idea of her “Future self,” an empowering, successful, hardworking woman, who gives back to the community and of course makes a statement through her style, which is centered around modesty and her Muslim culture. 

“You are your own competition. The only person you are trying to overcome is you.” See what else Nadia has to say below.

Name: Nadia Issa
Residence: Indianapolis, Indiana
Occupation: Fashion influencer and college student
Where did you grow up?: I was born in Niger, but I came here when I was seven years old and was raised here.

What is your earliest memory of a noticeable interest in fashion?
Honestly since the minute I could talk and dress myself I was crazy about clothing. I was that little girl who played dress up for every game. My mom got me a sewing machine when I was eight years old and it was my favorite present I ever received. 

Who or what influences your style?
My mom is a really big role model when it comes to my style, and my sister. My family is all crazy about clothing. My mom gets custom made clothing done from back home and the colors and patterns are so bright and so nice. I take a lot from my mom; we have different styles, but when you look deep down it’s like I’m borrowing some aspects of her style.

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
My sister. I know it sounds cliché but she really does have such a nice style. Also, Soha. In the beginning of my fashion career, I actually remember looking at her account and being inspired by her fashion, because she is also a Muslim Hijabee, but she’s not from here. I think she’s in Dubai, so it’s different but she’s an inspiration. I also love following Vogue and all those fashion magazines. I feel like we have different styles, but at the same time there are some things I incorporate in my style and I like to keep tabs on what is going on. 

How does your culture play a role in your style?
For me, my culture and my religion play the biggest role in my clothing. My hijab is from my religion and I try to incorporate that a lot. The way some styles of how my skirts and dresses are are also from my culture somehow. I believe fashion should represent you as a person and I try my best to make sure every outfit that I wear has some sort of “This is me,” because it’s truly a way for someone to know a lot about you without you saying something and I want to reflect my individuality through everything I do. 

Describe your personal style in four words or one phrase: 
Timeless, simple, elegant and modest. I try to incorporate modesty into every outfit I wear because that is a part of me and who I am as a person. Then, for the timeless aspect of my style, I am NOT a big fan of fast fashion. I don’t think it’s good for the environment and I do not wish to participate in it. I don’t take part in fast fashion and I also try to support small little boutiques, rising designers, and the community from back home. 

What’s your go-to item in your closet?
For me one staple in any outfit that I wear, besides my hijab, is rings. I believe accessories are really important. You could wear the same dress as someone else and still look very different. It all depends on how you accessorize something. So one thing I would never leave home without is rings and at least one bracelet, it’s a must. You could have the simplest dress and even just pairing it with a belt, it all of a sudden looks so chic. 

Who are your favorite designers, and what do you like about their designs? 
My top designers are people back in Niger. They are the most creative people I have ever met. I have a couple pieces from back home where they are so unique. When it comes to designers here, it is somewhat repetitive. You will see this pencil skirt here and the exact same one in a different color somewhere else. Whereas back in Niger it’s more like “We’re going to take measurements of your whole elbow, body, everything and then we are going to create a design for you.” Every person is different and that unique aspect of sitting with a designer and telling them “this is what I want, this is what I want covered,” just ties in this touch of individuality which makes them stand out as designers and their ability to just sit, talk to you, know what you want, draw it to you, show it to you, then create it for you. Here, you go to a store and you buy it or a designer makes it and prints out a thousand of them and if you’re lucky you get one of them. 

Did you ever consider leaving the Indy area? If so, what made you stay? 
I actually never thought about it. I’m a college student, so as of right now I’m trying to finish college. I’m not planning on leaving because this is where my school is. Fashion wise, I love to travel and love going to places. Before COVID I went to Saudia Arabia and it was the best time ever. I bought tons of new clothes and I also visited Ethiopia. I travel a lot so I don’t feel the need of “Oh my god I gotta move, I gotta move out” because I am always getting that sense of exposure from other travels. 

What’s a day in the life of an influencer like?
So I wake up and pick out an outfit. You have to make sure you take a shower and do your makeup. You’re going to get dressed and make sure you’re checking your email because companies send you emails all the time and you have to constantly be on top of who sent you what, who do I need to respond to, do I need to get back to someone? Then you need to keep a calendar of content creations that you told the company you’re going to do. So if you’re working with a company, you need to make sure you’re on top of emailing them, letting them know what you’re doing, did you receive the product? Did you photograph the product? I’m telling you, it could go on and on and when you finish that, that’s just the emailing process. You have to make sure that your makeup is on top and makeup for pictures and makeup for going out are very different. So then you have to make sure if you’re going to school, am I ready for school now? Or do I have all my homework done and everything? Then when you go to school, in between classes you have to try to find a magical way to take pictures and then you need a stand if you don’t have a photographer. I can go nitty gritty on how the life is, but really it’s just crazy. 

How do you balance your time with being an influencer and a full-time college student?
Honestly, it is something that I am used to. Like I say, if you do something that you love, it doesn’t feel like work. For me, being an influencer doesn’t seem like a job. I am enjoying my time doing these things because to me, this is my hobby, this is what I admire doing. Connecting is the most rewarding part. Just seeing the amazing messages from your followers. Two weeks ago one of my followers told me I inspired her and it just makes your day and makes it all worth it at the end of the day. It is a lot of crazy though.

What’s next for you? What short and long term goals are on your list?
Something that I want to achieve long term is going to grad school for economic development. My goal is to help underdeveloped countries become developed by providing job opportunities. My goal is to one day provide job opportunities to everyone, but in terms of fashion, women in underdeveloped countries, unable to work or find a job, I could teach them to take care of themselves like finding a way to teach them how to sew, make it, sell it, then teach it to their kids. It’s a domino effect. If you help someone, imagine if they break poverty, then their kids are out of it, and their kids. So just helping at least one person would make my day. Short term, I want to finish college. 

Define fashion.
It’s an expression of who you are. For me, I am a triple minority and fashion is my way of controlling people’s perception of me. The whole society already has a preconceived notion of who I am. So fashion is that one aspect where, hey, you can have everything you want, but when you see me, I’m going to make sure you have this perception about me before you walk past me. A lot of people are not looking to learn about each other and fashion is a way of saying, “hey, you don’t have to sit and listen, but i’m gonna show you.” My goal with my fashion is to convey a strong, confident woman that no one could put down no matter what. You don’t have to fit a certain persona to be considered beautiful or to take care of yourself and be who you want to be.

Worst fashion trend?
I don’t like the dresses on top of jeans. I like the baggy mom jeans, but if you put a dress on top of those, I don’t like it. I also don’t like how the major brands like Balenciaga are putting their whole brand all across the bag. Your taking away from the structure. The fit and the structure are what’s important, not the name. It just seems so overrated. 

Best fashion trend?
One thing that I see happening in other parts of the world that hasn’t come here yet is the modest movement. It is so inclusive and empowering to women. The media has dehumanized humans to body parts, so many people feel like they need to look like a certain body type and body shape and have these unrealistic standards. For me, the modest movement is all about you do you, wear whatever you want to wear, you don’t have to expose your body to feel like you are beautiful. That’s what I really love about the UK because I know they are having a major modest fashion movement and I really admire that. You pick up magazines sometimes and you just know that body’s not real, even the person on the magazine wishes they had that body. So telling people this is what you’re supposed to be aiming at is just so unrealistic and does not represent the general population. You’re more than just your body type and you shouldn’t feel like in order to be considered ‘trendy’ you need to be exposing your whole body. 

Last but certainly not least, name your favorite fashion icon. 
This is going to sound so cliche, but my favorite fashion icon is the future me. That’s always what I have been looking up to. When I was growing up, I didn’t have that person to look up to in the media. I just painted a picture of Nadia Issa 30-35 years old, where she’s at, how she’s dressing, and what she’s doing. Up until today, that’s been my goal to achieve that. I feel like when you start to look up to others, you start to forget your own self because you’re trying to obtain their perspective of what success is. So I’ve just always looked up to what do I define as success? So I painted this picture of 30 year old Nadia and everyday I try to work closer to achieving her and bringing her to reality.

Stay up to date with Nadia Issa on Instagram.

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