Fashion is my Armour

Buried Deep / Nima Mardaneh

Paris, France

A Love Letter to Fashion

Most of you know me by the name Buried Deep, a small idea turned business that was brought to life in 2020 - but I am not here to write about that. I want to use this opportunity to introduce myself as Nima Mardaneh.

This past August, I quit my full-time job, sold all my furniture, packed my bags, and bid farewell to family and friends in Canada to begin a new chapter of my life in Paris, France - the city I had my sights set on since sixteen. This move set the stage of endless promise as I embark on my mid-twenties.

Through working in the fashion industry over the last decade, I have combined my creative direction, curation, photography and styling approaches while staying true to my vision throughout my work. I wanted to create a multidisciplinary platform that allowed me to indulge in fashion and give my particular fascination with the history and evolution of fashion the space to thrive.

My interest sparked naturally at an early age, as my mother, aunts, and cousins were all highly involved with fashion. Like myself, they were intensely aware of trends and their appearances. As a young boy watching my family get ready and dress themselves for the day or night, I was always envious of the confidence and beauty they would emanate. Growing up in a Persian house hold while trying to understand my queerness was challenging to navigate and very difficult on me. Fashion stood as an escape; limitless and without boundaries.

"Although I have been welcomed into the fashion community warmly by some, unfortunately, this is not always the case."

My interest in fashion quickly developed into a profound and all-consuming relationship, with me desperately needing to learn everything I could and challenging myself relentlessly. Fashion became my creative outlet of self-expression. What I wore and how I carried myself was in stark contrast to the people around me in the suburbs of Ontario - the type of place where the people were all carbon copies of one another, and the possibility of a future in which I would become one of them revolted me.

It was in my early years of adolescence that I realized as a queer, P.O.C kid, society would find any way to make me feel unwelcome and less-than. This pushed me into a place of complete isolation where I didn’t feel accepted for being myself, and the only part of me I truly had autonomy over was my appearance. Whether it was the attitudes and actions of my family, cruel comments from my peers, or spiteful looks from strangers, these tough situations motivated me to being unapologetically myself. I have received many harmful reactions, from being yelled at, to laughed at, name called, and even spat on.

I believe most people live in fear and feel threatened when they see someone living unapologetically true to who they are. Obviously, it’s hard. I am not invincible. We all still have that little kid inside us who craves safety, comfort, and acceptance. I’ve learned that people will always find a reason to judge you and make you feel unwelcome, so what better way to say “fuck you” than living your authentic truth. What started as an appreciation for clothes and dressing up, has evolved into my armour. Even today, when I feel unwelcome and out of place, though it’s never easy, I know I am okay because I am protected in my armour. Society can break you down so much unconsciously, that it will drive you to a point where you have no choice but to be yourself, and I would be living a lie if I surrendered to societal norms.

Photographer: Igor Pjörrt

"Society can break you down so much unconsciously, that it will drive you to a point where you have no choice but to be yourself, and I would be living a lie if I surrendered to societal norms."

Nevertheless, there are still some days that the pain weighs on me, and I question how much more I can endure. Even on the days where I feel I’m “blending in”, society will still find a reason to ostracize me. I have never gendered clothing, shoes, or accessories, however, in reality society is still binary. I am visibly a cis-male, and it just isn’t palatable for many people to see me wearing skirts, heels, or makeup. An area I struggled most with, was the fear of my parents.

My mother and father always just wanted to know that their baby was safe and was not being challenged and threatened by society. I understood where their fear stemmed from, as things were different in their generation, but ultimately I think the biggest threat to myself is hiding who I really am.

During these conversations that we still have to this day, my parents often question why I put up with the constant scrutiny from strangers just to wear what I want. I have to remind them that it doesn’t need to make sense to them, and that all they need to know is it makes me the most happy knowing I am living each day true to who I am. No matter what, there is always a glimmer of hope that allows me to continue living my authenticity. Fashion has become my defence mechanism.

Photographer: Igor Pjörrt

Although I have been welcomed into the fashion community warmly by some, unfortunately, this is not always the case. There is a visible class divide between people in the community that may often make you feel that you are not rich enough or on trend, and this creates a contradicting internal dialogue. Fashion is a very high paced environment where things are endlessly changing, that it’s almost impossible to grab ahold of something before people have moved onto the next. This practice in the industry makes fitting in to the fashion community feel unattainable at times, based on trends, money, or status.

The reason archiving and delving into the history of fashion feels so safe for me is because I am celebrating something more timeless. It is exhausting to constantly keep up with the fashion cycles and fads, whereas with my work, I honour something with permanence. A place where I was able to seek safety in fashion was researching “The Greats”. Reading their stories and learning more about them, I got the sense that maybe they felt similar to me, if not the same.

There is something so powerful about my personal archive that makes me feel safe. When I put my McQueen on, I feel incredibly radiant, I feel that the message he was trying to articulate was so profound, and his garments make me feel confident. Within the fashion community, I am constantly trying to navigate my place. I do dream of a community where we put aside class and status and accept one another for what is on the inside. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter what you wear or how you present yourself externally, but rather finding the people who align with your values and love you for who you are is what means most.

It’s not for everyone, and that is fine. I will allow you to be yourself, but please, allow me to be me. I have developed a deep love for fashion, that I believe has always been there since I was young, it moves me, it makes me feel safe and that is why it is my armour.

Photographer: Igor Pjörrt

Fashion [X] is a new cultural platform that examines the fashion industry from a social, political, economic and creative point of view, giving a voice to people representing the new era of fashion and creates space for experiences continuously overlooked.
The platform is developed by the Swedish Fashion Council in partnership with SALLY by EY Doberman.