November 26, 2012 By Abdul Basith

Hijab : fashion in a rebellious choice

Islamic-Fashion-SHowWe have long got past the days, when we thought of fashion as something which turned its back to tradition. Modernity wedded to tradition has been the manthra for much too long. That is why ‘hijab fashion’ or ‘muhajjaba models’ are the active registers in the fashion world.
Fashion world will now have to think about weaving and stitching garments and costumes to fit the needs of Muslim women as well, as the Hijab common to their belief is having a world wide reach and is not limited within religious circles[unlike how faith related costumes are for most other religions].

Global Muslim fashion is one growth segment that is just waiting to be brought into the mainstream of the industry. Bloomberg estimates this market to be worth $96 billion and what makes it even more attractive is that it stems from a young demographic, comprising a whopping 11% of the entire world population [The Sunday Guardian, article by Teena Baruah, 17th June 2012].

The Turkey based Ala Fashion Magazine is indeed a significant step on this regard; Ala — called the “Vogue of the veiled” in the Turkish news media — put forwards that unlikely fusion of conservative Muslim values and high fashion. It asks the Muslim women to wear a GUCCI scarf or Louis Vuitton purse but different from traditional fashion magazines doesn’t ask her to reveal anything and so gives her every right to adhere to the Islamic guidelines. Her arms, legs and head will be covered, with no tight pants or skirts to suffocate her Islamic identity, still she will appear fashionable and sophisticated and at the same time elegant and modest.

The Magazine thus upholds the principle “Female beauty is OK as long as it’s not seductive.” [The New York Times, Istanbul Journal, 29th March, 2012]

It won’t be a surprise if Turkey turns the ‘fashion capital’ of Hijab wearing women and hoist fashion weeks parallel to those at Newyork City, London, Milan and Paris; especially because unlike other parts of the world, such outward displays of religion is seen more as empowerment and modernisation of the pious women in Turkey, thanks to the repressive measures by yesteryear secular elites, who were insistent on banning the wearing of head scarves in public institutions.

So it has been the result of a much fought out revolution for the right to wear costumes of one’s choice, and reformations are always undertaken to make a society further more civilised and sophisticated, so now they need to brighten up their scarves with attractive colours and make their Hijab fashionable in all sought of means available, paying due respect to the religious views on this regard.

“For too long the head scarf was used as a political weapon, but there are millions of young women like me who wear the hijab; we are helping to break taboos. We are also overcoming the cliché that head scarves are only for old aunties” says Hulya Aslan, Ala’s editor. [The New York Times, Istanbul Journal, 29th March, 2012]

The magazine is now on the way expanding to the middle-east, hoping that a similar approach as that of in Turkey would actually make the women worldwide, wear it and feel happier and none watching those fashionable women in Hijab would dare to tell that something is being compelled upon them.

Jana Kossaibati, whose blog, Hijab Style, claims to be the UK’s first style guide for Muslim women, says women are getting more experimental. “Muslim girls are very conscious of the way they dress. When you wear a headscarf you stand out as a Muslim, so what kind of message are you also sending out if you look drab or messy?” Kossaibati started her site because there wasn’t another like it in the UK, “but since it began 10 months ago a lot of others have appeared,” she says. [The Guardian, The hijab goes high fashion, by Homa Khaleeli]

It is not just about wearing colourful scarves and a variety of styles in which scarves may be worn to compliment an outfit instead they gets colourfully layered, embellished with beads and crystals, paired with jeans and sneakers, It would simply make you love wearing it.  [Mail $ Guardian, Hijab a matter of choice, 3rd August 2012]

The designers have a lot to explore with regard to Islamic fashion because unlike the popular concept that it just needs an abaya, burqa and a headscarf made colourful and glitter with stones/prints, it is all about mixing and matching costumes like a maxi and a jacket, midi skirts with leggings or trousers underneath, low cut tops with a sufficiently long hijab etc.
The strapless or back less costume would then have beautiful jackets with long sleeves and this blend of costumes in the right proportion and the right place by a maestro designer is always worth a try, especially as a party wear or wedding gown, even for those section of the people, who believe they are not obliged to cover themselves up; the only thing which holds you back will be that, when short tunics turn into long gowns with sleeves, their prices also go up considerably.

A few have started recognising these facts and it is easy for Muslim women to be fashionable in Britain these days, the bright leopard prints and H$M/Gucci shawls as hijab, the bee hive styled hijabs worn with variety of garments ranging from silk to denim materials will of course make you laugh at people who are still sleeping over stereotypes like Hijab is restrictive/oppressive/forced.  But it is a fact that mainstream brands and fashion shows are reluctant in targeting Muslim women despite identifying that Muslim fashion is worth millions globally.

One could choose not to wear a headscarf and similar Islamic identities because it is un-styled or boring but it has every right to get into the fashion weeks at Paris and elsewhere or otherwise alternatives fashion worlds would raise up to weave and stitch what the people wants and feels comfortable with – taking in to consideration all regional, ethnical, faith-related diversities in garments and costumes. Anyway the beauty of hijab lies in a woman’s choice to wear it and there is no better way than to make it fashionable in order to make it her choice.


Posted in: Art