If you hadn’t noticed by now, our May cover’s got swagger, or as we would like to say in Arabic, haraka. We took it upon ourselves to celebrate the Haraka fever that recently hit Kuwait, and once you get to know one of the founders behind the Haraka brand Muna Yateem, you’ll have every reason to jump on the Haraka-wagon too. It’s fun, spirited, a tad cheeky and simply über-cool—basically everything we could ever stand for here at bazaar.
Having previously met Muna at the lifestyle shopping event, Pretty Little Things, I asked her what motivated her to create those funky, bright colored watches that everyone was huddled around, pushing and shoving to get their hands on the last few best-selling designs. She recounts stories of travels to dreary New York subways and boring outfits along the way, and how almost everyone’s arms were covered with dull accessories. Deciding to break away from the expected, she took it upon herself to brighten everyone’s look, from Bahrain to New York, with designs that are best described as tastefully mischievous and whimsically humorous; designs that resonate with an emerging generation of Middle Eastern youth, one that embraces modernity with all its marvels, yet celebrates the local cultural customs at the same time.
Upon completing her studies in Interior and Spatial Design from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, and her master’s degree in Urban Design from the University College London, Muna began her career working for international interior design firm, DWP. From there, she proceeded to work on Bahrain’s Golden Lion award winning project, Reclaim, at the grand Venice Biennale. From there, Muna saw no restrictions to her design abilities, as her passion encompassed more than one area of design, from print media to fashion and lifestyle product design. Haraka arrives as an encapsulation of Muna’s views on both art and fashion in the form of a modern lifestyle brand inspired by a blend of local Bahraini culture immersed in a fast paced, modern world in the form of colorful watches, t-shirts, tote bags and accessories. Since its launch in May 2012, Haraka’s product lines include both men and women’s wear and lifestyle accessories.
Does fashion ‘make’ the person or does the person ‘make’ fashion?
I like to think that the person ‘makes’ fashion. Although sometimes trends come from influencers in fashion, but it takes a person’s individual style to make the trend their own. When people are comfortable, confident and wear what they want regardless of anyone’s opinions, they embody and exude their own personal style.
How would you describe your style?
For me, comfort is key; if you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, you automatically look good and that’s what matters. I like wearing looks that can go from day-to-night; because I’m so busy I often have to wear my outfit straight from work to an early dinner or a meeting. Accessories help me pull this off, so that’s one of the reasons I created, HARAKA watches and accessories.
Where do you get inspiration for your style?
I think street style and individual style play a big role in how I dress. Also, there’s nothing better than people watching on the streets in fashion capital cities during fashion week!
What does it take to become a style innovator?
Style innovation for me, is not just coming up with new and different ideas but actually about making them happen. You have to be able to spot different and exciting opportunities, be intuitive and insightful, pay attention to detail, but also be able to stay focused and have a well-planned, outcome-oriented nature.
What’s exciting right now in fashion?
The fact that right now there are no rules. Print goes on any print. Monochrome is the epitome of luxury, and animal prints come out to play.
Who or what has been your greatest fashion influence?
While I was doing my masters in London in Urban Design, I went to visit an architectural exhibition by Zaha Hadid and saw one of her handbags for Louis Vuitton. She was the first to enlighten me that the lines between architecture and fashion are blurred and the only difference is a matter of scale.
Who are your favorite emerging designers, and what is it that you love about them?
There are so many talented emerging designers in the Middle East now, that I find it incredibly hard to just name one. I love that they take risks, aren’t afraid to show the world their personal style and aren’t swayed by what’s ‘in’ at the moment.
What is the highlight of your ‘style’ career so far?
When I see people I don’t know wearing my products—that makes me happy.
Every fashionality has as a style obsession, what’s yours?
I’m obsessed with accessories! They can dress up and completely change any outfit.
Do you follow any fashion blogs? If so, which would you recommend?
I do, but not religiously. In Bahrain, there are quite a few emerging local bloggers that have a great eye for fashion and mixing current trends, such as The Overdressed, Pretty Fashion Forward and Closet Jigsaw.
What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that people wore more often?
I wish people would accessorize more! The power of accessories to update or transform an outfit is definitely underrated. Also, hats. Can we please bring back hats for both men and women? I love classic movies and the characters were always wearing them.
To be stylish is to be fashionable. True or False and why?
False. Style is within a person, where as fashion can be bought.