From Khartoum to Toronto: How One Woman Is Modernizing Sudanese Culture

From Khartoum to Toronto: How One Woman Is Modernizing Sudanese Culture

By Denio Lourenco

After growing up in Dubai as a Muslim woman with mixed heritage hailing from North Sudan and the Philippines, Su'aad Hassan explains how she struggled to find her own identity. It wasn't until her family immigrated to Canada that Su'aad was able to tap into every part of herself.

Now the self-realized 22-year-old blogger is transforming the modest clothing of her culture by incorporating traces of hip hop street style and European tailoring to her traditional Sudanese Toub. Su'aad's Instagram, @modern.sudania, is a growing portfolio of her modeling these vibrant outfits.

"Finding myself was definitely hard," Su'aad explained. "I don't think I ever got to fully explore my interests, but over time I fell in love with hip hop and R&B. Not just the music, but also the culture."

"I used to be so limited because I've always been told to dress modestly and be covered. Now that I want to wear a hijab I'm more restricted, but instead of finding myself stuck within the few options catered to [Muslim women like] me, I make the things I like work for me," she said.

"It's become quite the fun challenge trying to find the right items that work for the look I'm going for and layering what I need to make it modest," she added.

Su'aad's fashion choices don't always reflect the stereotype of Muslim women's clothing, but she says that's the point. She explains how Muslim women are often perceived in a certain way or limited to a particular type of apparel; however, that doesn't have to be the case. There are modern fashion choices for Muslim women and her Instagram page serves as an example.

"I love my Sudanese cultural dress," Su'aad said. "It's not the most conventional because I'm not a heel type of girl. I like shoes that require socks and typically women wear sandals or strappy heels with the toub."

She added: "Exploring how I could make these outfits functional led me to where I am today, as @modern.sudania. I took something that I hold in high regard and tried to make it suit my lifestyle and people loved it. Through Instagram I found girls who were like me and I felt less like I was the only one going through my particular identity crisis."

Photo via Instagram