Meyacota: Fashion that Pushes Boundaries

Photo: private archive

Sumeja Arifović’s love for fashion dates back to her early childhood.

During kindergarten, she often drew clothes and fashion models, and her artwork was even published in children’s magazines. Her first coloring book featuring models, a beloved gift brought from Ljubljana by her aunt, was the beginning of her passion for fashion design. 

In high school, she branded this passion under the name of “Meyacota,” with the support of her friends. She began to experiment with her own style, infusing it into her creations. “Fashion fulfills me both creatively and in design and allows me to experiment in my own style. While for many it’s just a piece of fabric, I used to find myself spending the last of my money in shops because some shoes or fashion piece enchanted me,” said Arifović.

Sumeja Arifović has been experimenting with style since childhood (Photo: private archive)

She describes midi-skirts, cowboy boots, and summer tops in various shades as must-haves in her wardrobe. “I’ll always be in love with fashion and experiment with various styles,” said the “Meyacota label owner. 

She believes that once you establish credibility, you encounter fewer obstacles, but getting to that point isn’t easy. Her first fashion show will forever be a special memory, but organizing it was very difficult because at the time, she was considered a novice and lacked the credibility of a serious designer.

“I’ve tried to give all of my collections a personal touch. The first collection was a combination of fashion and film, because at that time, I was thinking about my post-high school education, and my two options were fashion and acting,” Arifović recalled. 

One of her collections, called “Rebel,” consists of creations inspired by topics that we often turn a blind eye to, such as the fight for LGBTQ equality, violence against men, and feminism. She explained that some of her pieces feature references to Cher’s famous declaration “Mom, I am a rich man,” while another is dedicated to a girl who was sexually abused in Kosovo. One of her creations, “O is not a size,” symbolically challenges the idea that beauty is based on weight. 

Arifović points out that she has never received any negative comments and has had support from the very beginning. 

Sumeja Arifović’s fashion creations are interwoven with the theme of human rights (Photo: private archive)

“I’m not someone who thinks too much about the past or future. I like to live in the present. I like to carry out every plan and idea immediately,” she noted. 

Last December, she held her third fashion show, called “I am woman,” drawing inspiration from feminism. With this collection, she wanted to convey the strength that all women possess, incorporating feminist motifs into her creations. 

“Your gender is not a deciding factor or a barrier to success. For example, fashion design is classified as a ‘female’ profession, but we know that many of the best fashion designers in the world are, in fact, men. So, entrepreneurship or any occupation shouldn’t be associated with any one gender,” asserts Arifović.

Her message to all women hesitant to enter the world of entrepreneurship is that “constant work, innovation and a sense of marketing are the keys to success. If you’re afraid to start something or pursue the life you dream about because of what others say, you’ll never succeed. Value your own opinion and the opinions of people close to you—everyone else is just a spectator and has no real influence on your life, nor do their comments”.

Elma is a trained Balkan Diskurs correspondent from Zenica. She is a student at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Zenica, in the Department of Management. She is a longtime activist and volunteer. Recently, the focus of her activist engagement has been on human rights, gender inequality, marginalized groups, and war issues.

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