ISLAMABAD’S DIGITAL DOYENNES - Amber Javed Alias 'A Wardrobe Affair' - Fashion Blogger & Digital Content Creator
Tell us about your journey on social media, did it start off a hobby, or did you always see it as a viable career option?
I started blogging back in 2012, when it was fairly unheard of concept in Pakistan. I was an avid reader of some International fashion blogs at that time, and felt a dire need for a digital platform back home that would be centred around Pakistani fashion. I came up with a name, set up a website, joined Instagram and there has been no looking back since then. The passion has grown along the way.
I managed the blog alongside my (cushy) day job for 8 long years. It was not until 2019 that I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue blogging as a full time career.
How do you characterise what you do? How do you feel about the word ‘influencer’?
Simply put, I am a fashion blogger. There is no other way to describe it. Most of what I do is focused around exploring the best of local fashion, while keeping a keen eye on the global trends, and bringing the best of both to my digital community. I have been told (by my online friends) that my content style is simple, relatable and speaks to a vast majority of women in our cultural context – whether that is centred around fashion or beauty or complex subjects like mental health and other social causes. To be honest, I really don’t like the word ‘Influencer’. Everyone in an influencer, for whatever little or big influence they hold over other people. Even in the context of digital media, it is for the people who decide who they get influenced by, and not for us to label ourselves as.
The world is going digital, particularly with the global pandemic and lockdowns; people started working from home, many businesses moved online etc. Do you think that now even more than ever the future is online?
Absolutely. Social media marketing in particular has exploded over the last few months, globally. Online media consumption has skyrocketed over the last few years and there is a complete behavioural shift in how people consume information and entertainment. The ‘present’ is online. Any business who denies their business the due online presence, would be in a losing situation.
People seem to have the idea that the only thing that people do online is waste time. What is the biggest misconception that people have about your work?
This is a very sweeping, misinformed statement to give, and one cannot simply generalize it for the entire population of the world. Social media is a crucial tool now for brands, businesses and individuals to make a living, build communities, connect with people, search information and grow both as a person and a professional. Whereas this might be true that people who use it purely for entertainment or online browsing, might waste more time than they should, one cannot generalize for anyone and everyone. Even for social media influencers, people assume that our job entails simply dressing up, taking pictures and documenting our days. But there is a whole machinery and industry behind it now. People like myself have built a thriving career on Instagram, so when I use social media, it is more than just aimless browsing.
We’re constantly being told about the detrimental effect that social media has on our mental and physical health? Do you ever switch off or take a break? How do you keep a check on your emotional well being?
That’s true. With the overly stimulated environment that social media offers, it is very easy to develop a sense of upward social comparison and a relative sense of deprivation. ‘People watching’ can be detrimental to mental health, so one has to be more mindful of time we spend on social media now and what information we consume, who we follow and how that effects our well-being. Which is why I have taken social media breaks previously, and I hope to do that in future as well, to ensure that I don’t tip over and stay grounded in reality. I guess everyone needs to do that in whatever way they can – there is a dire need for everyone to discipline their screen time and know when to disconnect.
Tell us a little bit about your latest venture ‘Find Again’. How did you come up with the idea?
'Find Again' is a curated selection of preloved fashionable finds, handpicked by me, for the thoughtful buyer of today. It is an endeavour to make fashion sustainable in our communities, and to reimagine how we shop, by saving time, money and resources. I wanted fashion to be accessible to the masses and create a space where people can shop exclusive fashion finds at great prices. I believe that fashion and sustainability can truly co-exist, as things are changing for the better. We hope that together, we can play our part in transforming the situation.
On a related note, we’ve seen that negativity on the internet, or ‘trolling’ can have a real impact on people. How do you deal with trolls and what advice can you give to the rest of us who have to deal with them occasionally?
I don’t engage. I believe that nobody can make you feel bad unless you allow them to. And therefore it is very important to know how to block that negativity, internally more than anything else. There will always be people who will project their own ill feelings on to you – so don’t take it personally. Disengage and move on.
On a more positive note, what is it about being a digital content creator that you love and that keeps you going?
I feel very fortunate to be in a position where thousands of women, across the globe, engage with me on an everyday basis. Having a platform where my voice is heard, and and I can make a difference to someone out there, however little that may be, is very gratifying. And that is what keeps me going. My online family keeps me going. I am truly grateful for it every single day.
Who would you pick as your favourite/top three influencers/content creators?
I have always looked up to Eva Chen – the Director of Fashion at Instagram.
I have also really inspired by Leandra Medine (a.k.a. Manrepeller). Among Pakistani influencers, I really appreciate Shehzeen ( Desiwonderwoman) , Shahana Khan and DesiBaguette .
INTERVIEWS: HELLO! PAKISTAN
PHOTOGRAPHY: SALMAN MUNIR OF QAMAR ANWAR