FannBoy Friday with Shahjehan Khan: Designer and Stylist Michelle Naik

FannBoy Friday with Shahjehan Khan: Designer and Stylist Michelle Naik

One of the coolest things about touring around with a band is the community of people that come out to your shows. More often than not, they’ll show you the best food locally, and if you’re even luckier, you’ll remain friends for years to come. Such is the case with this week’s guest Michelle Naik. We first met during a Kominas’ gig in Houston, then again the following year at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Michelle is a Pakistani-American wardrobe stylist based in Houston. She also co-founded the clothing line Basim & Michelle with her cousin after working her way up to Associate Editor at Weddings in Houston magazine.

It just brings me so much joy, expressing my creativity through fashion.

– Michelle Naik

(Michelle’s interview has been edited for length and clarity)

Shahjehan: What are you working on this year?

Michelle: I just recently started wardrobe styling. … I do wardrobe styling [and] creative direction for photo shoots [as well as] personal shopping for clients or people that … want to start fresh with a new wardrobe or … explore new styles.

Shahjehan: What are the differences between the wardrobe styling you’re doing now and the design stuff you’ve traditionally done?

Michelle: So designing and styling are very different, but with styling it’s mainly just me picking out which outfits work best for [a] photo shoot or for a specific client that wants to have a certain look. I honestly enjoy it a lot more. There’s so many things involved [with the design process] like the whole Basim & Michelle thing

Owning your own brand and business is a whole different beast and there’s a lot of stress that goes on. There’s so many different moving parts: production, design, marketing, sales, everything. So that’s why I really enjoy styling more, just because I also don’t have to worry about inventory. It’s mainly just me being able to be creative and put together different looks. I get to connect with different designers, different brands and all sorts of people, which is really cool.

Shahjehan: When would you say you knew that this was the kind of thing you wanted to do?

Michelle: I mean, I’ve always wanted to do this. I feel like since high school, I want[ed] to work in fashion and I want[ed] to work in all different aspects of the fashion industry. With styling I would say like my early college years. 

Shahjehan: Do you remember the specific moment where you felt like you were finally doing it? 

Michelle: Yeah. When I first started my fashion blog, back in 2010 before the whole influencer thing started … I just got such a great response from all of my readers and subscribers and I was like, “Damn, like maybe I should really just keep pursuing this!” I was getting featured in different magazines and online sites. … It just brings me so much joy, expressing my creativity through fashion.

Shahjehan: Finally, who are some of the Muslim or Muslim-adjacent creatives that currently inspire you?

Michelle: Hashim Ali does really great work, like all the photo shoots that he does for brands [in Pakistan]. His aesthetic and eye for detail and creative direction in these shoots [is] amazing. I’m obsessed with him. 

Mehek Saeed is also in Lahore Pakistan. I love her work too and I really like anytime she posts a new shoot or just anything that she’s styled. I’m so drawn to it because I feel like we have kind of the same style aesthetic as well.

Riz Ahmed is also so creative and talented and I like the fact that he’s made it where he is right now. I just admire it so much and I feel like he’s doing really good work. And even just representing the South Asian or specifically Muslim community, I think he’s doing a great job with [that].

Shahjehan: You actually made me think of another question! A lot of your work is and has been rooted in Pakistan (whether the styling or manufacturing). How important is it to you to maintain that connection and why? 

Michelle:  I think just the way that my parents brought me up; they’ve always kind of enforced this strong Pakistani identity or even just the culture. And so I think because of that, I’ve always been drawn to it, whether it’s music, language, fashion, poetry, all of that. It just kind of gives me a sense of, “This is what sets me apart from other people, just being connected to my Pakistani culture.” I don’t know, it just makes me feel so warm on the inside, anytime [I] think about Pakistan. I’m just like, “Man, I fucking love it!” Sorry. You can probably edit that out…

Clearly we chose not to edit it out. I feel the same way.

View this profile on Instagram

Michelle Naik (@michellennaik) • Instagram photos and videos

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