Fashionably Interviewed: Hawa Patel
The fashion scene in Houston is a small, humble but dedicated collection of people that want more for the city than its current offerings. Make no mistake, the Houston fashion scene is quite different from Houston Fashion. Houston Fashion changes regularly throughout the year depending on the proximity of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo or our winter month, Decembuary. The city’s fashion scene is comprised of designers, appreciators, “influencers,” the stocking boy at Tootsies and bloggers. One such digital writer is Hawa Patel of StylewithHP.com. Hawa agreed to chat and decipher the Houston fashion scene with Free Press Houston.
FPH: By my estimation, fashion is a vast, wide-ranging interest. When did you first get hooked into it? What specifically drew you into fashion?
Hawa Patel: I first got ‘hooked’ onto fashion or more like styling right after I graduated high school. My entire life up until 18, I wore a uniform. After graduating from my Islamic school, I was amazed that my daily wardrobe had more options than just a white hijab and navy blue blouse, I could wear anything!
Someone recently described me as using fashion or my style as an extension of myself and I think that’s where a lot of it started for me. Dressing myself is a very personal experience for me, I always ask myself “How do I feel today?” and “How do I want to feel?” and then dress myself. It’s a way of expressing myself and a form of self love for me, too.
FPH: Is there a specific person or location that you draw inspiration from?
Patel: What really inspires me is seeing real people embody fashion, like they truly own it and create a personal style. I’m obsessed with the notion of life, that sounds weird, but I cannot get enough of people just living and pursuing their dreams or doing what makes them feel happy or just keep on going. It’s a lot of movement and a really personal endeavor when I am inspired. I do sometimes see someone in a outfit and just fall in love with the vibe or the whole feel of their personal style, I dub them my ‘muse,’ ha.
FPH: Positive or negative, what are some of your observations of Houston style?
Patel: I attend school and work and spend all my time in Montrose, one of Houston’s most celebrated and creative neighborhoods. There is so much individuality and celebration of people and their passions that leaves me smiling stupidly when I see people in patchwork jeans they DIY’d or in Dick Clarke’s case his super funky ties!
FPH: Do you think Houston’s stylistic influence suffers from a lack of cold weather?
Patel: One hundred percent, yes! I have so many furs and coats and furs that are only worn for maybe a couple of months and then, boom! Its 90 degrees. Not fair. There’s this fur hat from Zara I got last fall that I never got to wear.
FPH: How hard is it to resist judging a person that wears flip flops 8 months out of the year? Asking for a friend.
Patel: It used to very hard, but as my personal style has grown and I’ve come to understand the depths of fashion or more like dressing oneself, I understand that not all everyone cares about their shoes or cares to change up the flip flop game a bit. Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves, I do it through fashion — shoes is where it all started — and other people do it through other avenues, no judgment there.
FPH: What would it take for Houston to garner some more attention for its fashion scene?
Patel: Houston is so nitty-gritty, and not in the New York or L.A way. Houston is very either “you’re in the city” or “you’re in the suburbs” and its just so huge that it’s not always easy or even ideal to round up all fashionables or even cultivate a larger culture or scene of fashionables. I mean yeah, Houston is fashionable, but we’re more oil and gas or just plain hustling to make a living that we’re not really chasing our dreams like people do in NY or LA, or its not practical to pursue fashion seriously in Houston. I think Houston needs more appreciation and more dedication to not the arts, but more fashion and self expression. I do think that STRUT is doing an amazing job at cultivating a fashion community in Houston.
FPH: Who are some of your favorite local designers or influencers?
Patel: I actually haven’t explored many of the local designers yet. I’m hoping to meet more of the fashion scene crowd as I further my fashion endeavor.
FPH: Be honest, should Dick Clarke (founder of STRUT and local fashionisto) shave his mustache?
Patel: Changing it up never hurts!
FPH: How has your appreciation of fashion, certain trends, fads, etc. changed over the years?
Patel: Growing up, I always felt the need to be ‘on-trend’ and to me that was fashion, but after years of toying what my personal style is and what exactly is fashion, I’ve come to the realization that trends aren’t fashion. Not to me, anyway. I love being in season and having the latest accessory and God do I love a good faux fur coat, but at the same time, if I’m not feeling a trend or I think it’s overrated and just plain overdone, then I don’t wear it.
FPH: What will you be wearing when the zombie apocalypse comes about?
Patel: I want to say I’ll dress practically, but let’s be real I’ll probably wake up and realize the zombies are here and ask myself how I feel that day — my actual getting dressed process — and then because I’ll be super scared or stressed out, I’ll put on a power outfit. Power outfits are usually reserved for the days I feel absolutely horrible and anxious or sick, they’re meant to make me feel better and they usually do! So when the zombie apocalypse comes around I’ll probably be in high-waisted jeans, tucked in shirts to emphasize my small waist, maybe a blazer and probably monochrome, and for extra comfort, I’ll probably have a fur coat and my biggest pair of sunnies so I don’t have to look zombies in the eye.
You can meet Hawa Patel and other fashionistas and fashionistos this Saturday at STRUT presents: La Jaula at El Pueblito starting at 6pm.
by Mills McCoin