Khadija Jahmila sees D.C. as a canvas. And she’s using her surrealist collage style to paint the town and champion the heroes of sustainable fashion and art.
District Fray: What D.C. style means to you
Khadija Jahmila: In D.C., the city is our canvas and we occupy space as we see fit. From wheat-pasted art on utility boxes to elaborate dinosaur gardenscapes, you’re guaranteed striking visuals at every turn. Locals are getting hip to fast fashion’s destruction to our planet and are saying “No” to unethical shopping and textile waste through clothing swaps, thrift shopping and upcycling projects.
Style icon and/or inspiration
As a self-proclaimed thrift store treasure hunter, my style icons are the upcyclers, DIYers and thrifters transforming salvaged goods into sustainable fashion and works of art. Consumerism leads to environmental degradation and places emphasis on scarcity over abundance. SwapDC is my all-time favorite clothing swap organization in the city emphasizing the importance of communal exchange and mutual aid.
If you’ve seen me out and about, there’s a good chance I was wearing a crop top. Max comfort and breathability for the win. No outfit is complete without a fun pair of earrings. My go-to pair is pterodactyl earrings from the brand Genuine Salamander made by local visual artist Rhythm Bowers. You can find her unique animal earrings at Femme Fatale DC.
Central to my surrealist collage style is the splicing of disjointed images to portray and celebrate Black women as otherworldly. The primary aesthetic of my work is an island where negative space directs the viewer’s focus to a centralized collage composite of recycled paper material. My thrift-and-swap adventures mirror my creation process, [with] emphasis on mixed patterns and blocked colors. I’d describe my presentation of self as “reserved retro tomboy in street wear,” complemented by my signature Khadija Jahmila machete necklace. I never take it off.
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