by Sarah Schwarz
A song once told us that “first love never dies”. For Shiaam Abrahams, the owner and designer of a South African modest fashion brand called Modesty On Blvd, art was her first love.
Before the brand was established, Shiaam had been in the IT industry for 13 years, internationally accredited in Digital Product and Marketing Management and has worked in the Banking Industry as a Digital Commercial Specialist for 5 years. She is also Certified in Project Management and Business Analysis. Growing up, Shiaam was exposed to a creative household with her loving parents. Her father being her role model, greatest supporter and mentor.
“I loved arts and crafts as a kid and my Dad would be my right-hand man on any Design mission I was on. I got most of my creativity from him as an Entrepreneur and Designer. He was truly skilled with his Hands and just had a method of making anything creative possible. We would also design furniture together which he had made and I hold dear to me to this day.”
Sadly, her father passed away recently. Perhaps, it was the influence of her childhood that compelled Shiaam to enroll for Fashion Design in her home city of Johannesburg in 2010 and obtain her Accreditation by the City and Guilds of London Institute while working in the IT Industry. For most artists, it is that personal connection of your soul to the materials you are working on, the whole process where the creative forces and imaginations traverse into a visual representation.
“I would say art holistically is something I enjoy, drawing, painting… Pretty much all things creative. We have a lot of technology at our disposal to aid the design process but the good old sketch pencil and paper method of illustration is what I appreciate most.”
Years later, in 2016, Shiaam (already a wife and mother of two) decided to resign from IT Corporate and fully focus on her designing career and building her brand Modesty on Blvd (M.O.B), while still serving as a freelance Consultant in IT and Business Management.
“It’s been 4 years since I’ve resigned and I am absolutely pleased to be able to fulfill both aspects of my careers and passion”
Shiaam had been a Fashion Correspondent for Style Africa a few years ago. Admittedly, her experience in the said organization added more push for her to pursue her passion and a better glimpse on the future of South African fashion.
During the interview conducted by fashion journalist from Australia- Aviana Hermawan, Shiaam believes this era is for modest fashion. As a business analyst herself, Shiaam is confident for modest fashion designers to succeed as the fashion industry is leaning towards them, urging designers all over the world to go out and take a share of this booming market.
Her brand Modesty on Blvd which she built in 2017 has a trendy, metropolitan look, a West- meets- East feel, combining the elements of Western silhouettes in modest style. It bears the identity of a youthful elegance with the choices of prints and colours, the garments are mostly handmade made of high- quality fabrics sourced locally from artisans all over South Africa.
What made Modesty on Blvd develop its style was Shiaam’s first-hand experience as a teenager when choices for modest clothing were so limited back then and she thought of making her own. Today, her brand translates what she hoped for modest fashion to look like.
“I wanted to create fashion that is wearable and modest without looking frumpy and aged.”
And being a mother of two, her vision turned towards preparing a fashionable yet modest society for her daughter and generations of young girls to come.
“My design inspiration comes from the amazing strong and beautiful women I am surrounded by and the opportunity to meet their Individual Style Aesthetic as well as keeping the on-trend with global styles.”