Kafilah Muhammad ’18 has a “wear what you want” attitude that attracts the attention of fashion lovers and haters alike. Muhammad hails from Brooklyn and is interested in studying Computer Science and African American Studies. She sat down with The Argus to share her take on style and dressing to tap into her heritage. Heavily involved with The Ankh, Muhammad also wants to reach out to students of color who are interested in writing or drawing for the publication, hoping to provide a safe space for their creative expression.
The Argus: To what extent do you consider yourself interested in fashion?
Kafilah Muhammad: I just would say I like clothes, and I like putting things together. But I’m not super into fashion. I just like putting stuff together…and wearing things that I feel connected to, or that I can feel connected to my roots [through].
A: Could you tell me a little bit more about how you connect to your roots through your clothes?
KM: I just feel like I am able to appreciate some parts of my African-American heritage and culture through dress. I like to wear a lot of dashikis and African print clothing, especially from Ghana. My mom went to Ghana and she brought back a lot of different fabrics, so I like to incorporate them in my outfits and my head wraps, because I’m Muslim, so I wear a lot of head wraps, which are called Khimars.
I’m really into a lot of African products. I really love dashikis, because during the Black Power movement, dashikis were like a way to reclaim some type of heritage or ancestry. And I love color and I love fabrics; I love patterns.
A: How long have you been interested in the way you dress?
KM: I never really cared about it. I just like wearing clothes. And I wear what makes me feel happy. So I just dress how I feel; if I feel like wearing a lot of patterns and colors, I’ll put that on…. If I feel really empowered, I wear all black, because that’s how I’m feeling some days…. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you just feel like, “yeah, I really like this.” And it’s a good feeling.
A: Describe your personal style in three to five words.
KM: Eccentric, colorful, Afrocentric…. Just myself.
A: What do you like most about style at Wes?
KM: I like how everyone represents themselves however they want; they have the freedom to do that. And no one judges you based on how you’re dressed. It’s just, basically, you can express yourself through whatever you want, and there’s so many different types of looks. I’m really into the all-black aesthetic right now, but I just feel like there’s so many different people who wear so many crazy things…. I just really enjoy looking at all the beautiful people here. It’s like we get Tumblr, but in real life!
A: How does the fashion scene differ here from your high school?
KM: At my school, there were a lot of people who were really into fashion. There was even a fashion club called Scarlets. The people in there were sick. But it’s different in a way that here, people have certain styles or trends that they follow.
A: Where are your favorite places to get your clothes?
KM: In Harlem there are a lot of awesome vendors and stuff who sell really cool, colorful pants that I really like to wear in the wintertime…. They’re really billowy and really colorful. I really just like going to different vendors and different shops and stuff. I like to thrift sometimes, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I just really like vendors and going to different shops, especially in Harlem, where there’s like a lot of different guys who sell…different garments from all over.
A: Where do you draw style inspiration from?
KM: My mom! My mom is my biggest style inspiration. She wears a lot of patterns too, and a lot of fabric; she’s very into appreciating yourself, loving yourself, appreciating black culture, black people, so that’s like basically where I get most of my inspiration from.
I also really, really, really like Zoë Kravitz right now. She’s really beautiful…. I’m just really inspired by her.
A: Is there a story behind your [ankh] earrings?
KM: My ankhs? These are my favorite symbols! They’re a really old, Egyptian symbol that stands for eternal life. So when you die, your soul goes on, and it was one of my friend’s favorite symbols before they died. He really liked it a lot, so I kind of just wear it to remember him, but it’s also one of my favorite symbols.
[I got them] from an African street festival in Brooklyn. I also get a lot of my jewelry from African street festivals. In Brooklyn, in the summertime, they have like tons of them, and they’re great.
A: How do you deal with dressing for this freezing weather?
KM: Well I’m used to it in Brooklyn, so just lots of layers, lots of comfy sweaters. Sometimes I embrace the cold and still wear things that are like totally not ready for the cold. Like these pants are so thin, it’s ridiculous, but I still wear them anyway, because I like how they look. But it’s really like not efficient at all because I’m freezing when I go outside.
A: Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
KM: Just dress how you want to dress and be who you want to be; feel how you want to feel, don’t apologize for that.