Farsi and flag colours: how Yara Shahidi's Adidas collaboration honours her Iranian roots

The 'grown-ish' star referenced her Iranian grandfather's rug shop in her line with the sportswear giant

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 file photo, Yara Shahidi attends the 2018 GLSEN Respect Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills,Calif. Shahidi brought the crowd to its feet at the GLSEN Respect Awards as she warned against an "identity blind narrative" in the struggle for acceptance of all. "We should all feel deserved and supported in expressing our right to being our whole selves, limited by nothing regardless of ethnicity, gender, identity, sexuality, ability, religion or any other identity that we choose," the 18-year-old "grown-ish" actress said at the ceremony. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

American actress Yara Shahidi, 21, has debuted her second collaboration with Adidas, which draws inspiration from her multicultural upbringing.

The grown-ish star's father, Afshin Shahidi, is Iranian and her mother, Keri Shahidi, is African-American.

"So much of what I wanted to convey was about the ways we choose to express our cultures and identities," Shahidi told Vogue of the collection.

“It may seem like a lofty goal to try and communicate those messages through articles of clothing, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

Shahidi's first collection for the sportswear giant featured Farsi text and Iranian architecture-inspired patterns. The sophomore collection references her Iranian grandfather’s rug shop in its prints and colour choices, and also features her name in Farsi.

“Initially, I didn’t understand the significance of taking an alphabet that has been weaponised and presenting it in fashionable light,” Shahidi said.

“I’ve been so moved by people’s responses to that, seeing that such a diverse group of people gravitated to that was cool.”

Harvard University student Shahidi was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota; her family moved to California when the actress was aged 4.

As well as referencing Shahidi's Iranian heritage, the collection also partially uses recycled materials, as part of Adidas' campaign to reduce plastic waste.

“There are references in there that are so specific to me personally and I was curious as to how well those elements were going to translate,” Shahidi explains.

The collection includes trainers, tracksuits, T-shirts and shorts, with a primarily yellow and green colour palette.

"I wondered if it was going to feel niche – I didn't want the pieces to simply be wearing Iranian heritage on your back," says Shahidi.

“Instead, people have embraced the emblems. So many of us are bicultural and online; I’ve been seeing people sharing their stories in connection to the pieces in a truly lovely way.”

The actress added that she spent much time researching the colour palette.

Whether it’s the yellow that could be viewed as a reference to saffron or the mustard seed, or that green that we introduced in drop one, these colours are touchpoints for so many different cultures as are the silhouettes. Some patterns provide a bridge between cultures as well, and their prevalence was interesting to explore.”

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