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Faizan’s Test Shoot

Faizan is a video journalist based in Pakistan. We were lucky enough to pin him down for a shoot during one of his annual return trips to London.  Faizan’s style necessarily shares two particular sartorial worlds, connected in complicated ways.  It offered us our first opportunity to shoot some traditional Pakistani menswear. Handmade Pakistani sandals alongside David Bowie: this shit is global.

Due to house sitting and travelling around Europe this summer, Faizan was worried that his wardrobe was a bit limited. In truth, his outfits were exceptionally well thought-out,  down to the tiny details. Quality over quantity, innit.  

1. What is the significance of your top choices?

- The kurta/long shirt is my everyday wear in Pakistan; that with jeans and chapal/sandals. It’s a look that sufficiently eastern and western, smart enough for work and casual enough for everyday. The kurta is from a Pakistani chain called Khaadi, they weave their clothes in a traditional method and their clothes are popular with well healed Pakistanis and westerners trying to fit in. I like the understated design on the sleeves and the classic Nehru collar.

- The shoes I love cos they are I guess Pakistani working class men’s sandals. The soles are actually made of recycled tyres. The mochi wallah or cobbler who sits under a canopy mending shoes and bags and stuff at the end of my road in Islamabad made these for me bespoke for about £4.

- The topi or hat is what guys wear to the mosque. I bought a whole bunch of different styles and colours outside the infamous Red Mosque in Islamabad. I wear this when I’m praying.

- The West Ham jacket was an impulse buy. They’re my local team, and I live close to WHU football ground. I popped into their shop as I was passing by the other year and got this. I do love it very much, I love the colours and design and feels very ‘home’ to me.

- The camouflage jacket is my newest purchase; I bought it with a friend and she helped me find the right size and stuff. Normally I’m a quick in/out shopper but it’s nice to have someone who wants you to look as good as you can.

- The Bowie tee shirt I love cos of the pose and the image; it’s from Spitalfields market.

- I like gold stuff at the moment and I notice a lot of other people out and about do too. The rings are old; a bit Chav (hence my DJ name Chavistani) the pendant is new (from Buckingham palace gift shop no less - it was originally a key ring) the earring is a bit Prince. The overall look is a bit Lost Boys I like to imagine; but hey I could got that completely wrong, who cares?!

2. How do you define your own transmasculinity?

I’ve always dressed in androgynously. I was a tomboy as a child and just became an overgrown version of that as I grew older. The only thing that’s changed so far since I decided to transition is my hair. That was the next logical step with defining my gender identity and I’m surprised how normal it feels for me. I feel like it’s been like this forever but actually only about a year. Facially I was always quite feminine looking and girly; wore make up etc everyday. But now my face at least feels a bit closer to who I am.

3. What do you want to communicate through your choices?

Individuality; my cultural and musical tastes; my cultural identities; a sense of fun; detail.

4. How has your fashion/style evolved?

Moving to Pakistani back in 2007 had a big impact on me in so many ways. I love Pakistani male attire for example; it’s so classic and stylish. I also collect Pakistan themed tee shirts like the red one I’m wearing in the shoot. It’s from the Karachi Literature Festival. The first time Pakistan has had it’s own literary festival was at the beginning of this year and I was there reporting on it for work. I had to really hassle the organisers for a tee shirt as they were only meant for volunteers but they kindly sent me one; apparently lots of the authors and visitors wanted one too. I have some nice tailored designer shalwar kameezes (national Pakistani outfit) but because I travel so much I often don’t have all my clothes with me at any one time. Currently my some of my smartest outfits are sitting in Islamabad, along with a bikers jacket I love. Oh well. Going back soon!

5. How would you describe your relationship to clothes?

My mum used to make me wear girl clothes when I was a kid. And I remember the precise moment when I realised how comfortable I felt in male clothes. I was maybe 5 or 6 and had no clean night dresses to wear so had to wear my brothers pyjamas. It felt instantly more like me; I had a massive sense of relief. In the past I went along with conforming with family, school, work expectations but it always felt like an act. Feeling like a man in drag or just totally just switching off my feelings; awful. It’s taken me a long while to tailor my appearance to match more how I feel, first clothes, then less/no make up and of course my hair. With clothes, like most people who are a bit bigger than average I don’t have a whole lot of confidence with clothes. But I do love style and I love men’s fashion. Wearing something I like and suits my individuality makes me feel confident and happy! Looking forward to an ever more evolving relationship with clothes and appearance. One thing I dislike is a uniform look or style that doesn’t change over time. I would like to think in a couple of years I’ll look completely different again.