Scrolling through the Good Girl Gang ‘gram is a blaze of smash-the-patriarchy pinks, self-love lilacs and boy-bye blues, colouring an aesthetic array of slogan-emblazoned feminist T-shirts. 'I Am All I Need' and 'Melanin Blessed' read designs hand-printed onto unassuming cotton tees.
Fittingly launched on International Women’s Day in 2017, Britain-based artist Nawel Hussain started the Good Girl Gang as an open discussion on identity, and as a means for tackling stereotypes and empowering misrepresented women, specifically of Asian and Arab descent. She set out to create the niche space she felt was missing from fashion and cultural narratives. “What started as wanting to wear something that shouted ‘brown girl power’ transformed into us wanting to find a way to wear whatever we felt strongly about, which wasn’t really available to buy anywhere,” Nawel tells Grazia.
“Anything to do with what a woman should be or behave like ignites a lot of inspiration for me,” she says, “Being told what you can’t do is always so much more fun to chase and beat down, which is the main aim for myself and the Good Girl Gang. It’s funny to think I try to push boundaries with how passive-aggressive I can make our T-shirts, which directly contradicts what being a ‘good girl’ would stereotypically be.”
Since conception, the Good Girl Gang influence has extended past existing as an online store and into a community of emboldened, unapologetic gals connecting through their beliefs and experiences. “I don’t see the Gang as a business,” Nawel says, “People that support the Gang become a part of the family - it’s amazing to see people connect even through something as ordinary as a T-shirt.”
Having faced obstacles of her own being a female building her own brand, she reveals, “It was difficult trying to translate the future I imagined for myself into physical changes, especially being a woman who is also Muslim and surrounded by elders fused to their own ideas of traditions and rules. Finding myself and my voice was a major cultural obstacle. I've always believed, however, that culture should never stop you from doing anything you have an interest in. If there is anything that can help you better understand yourselves and the world, it is definitely worth working hard and pushing boundaries for.”
“I’ve learnt so much from the failures I’ve had to endure, especially when the Good Girl Gang was first started. Looking back, I would say that I should not have cared about what people expected of me, and focused sooner on what I wanted for myself, but that’s just another way this incredible project has shaped me and allowed me to grow, and something I hope the Good Girl Gang can do for the women around me.”
The label’s playful femme vibe is refreshing, but it’s ultimately the progressive feminist stance that feels most powerful in the current cultural landscape. Looking towards the future of the Gang, Nawel tells us, “I am focused on continuing to grow the Good Girl Gang community and creating stronger connections with my support base as nothing would be as it is now if it wasn’t for the discussions on subjects like identity and culture."
Nawel's message to Grazia readers? "Had I not created the Good Girl Gang, I would have remained the reserved and disconnected person I was; afraid to try anything new because failure was too big a risk. To anyone that feels boxed in by their background, gender or is afraid of judgement; you’re only stopping yourself. Anything is possible if you care about it enough. If you never try to stretch boundaries and push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you’ll always be stuck in the same place and familiarity can be such a trapping thing." In a world that all too often overlooks the role and contributions of women, the Good Girl Gang hopes to make a change by elevating their voices, smashing one stereotype at a time.