LIKE many issues, I noticed it first on Fb: a denim headband or hijab being offered by the favored American Eagle model. The good friend who posted it truly wears the hijab, and her accompanying put up was disapproving. What have been the designers pondering; what Muslim lady would need to don a thick denim hijab in the course of summer season? What hijab-sporting Muslim lady would need to put on a denim hijab in any respect?
She was improper; there are apparently a lot of such ladies. The denim hijab, which was solely accessible for on-line buy, offered out inside hours of being provided. Moderately priced and seemingly a shock for many Muslim customers who wouldn't need to sport skimpy tank tops or shorts that are the standard choices of the corporate, the denim hijab was wolfed up. The demand was there, the purchasers have been there — determined to purchase a hijab that will seemingly really feel very similar to a blanket within the searing summer season warmth.
American Eagle was not, after all, the primary company clothes retailer to supply a mass-market designer hijab. Nike did it first with a lot fanfare (and boasting a excessive-tech breathable cloth maybe extra appropriate than denim) however there was a just like-do and media frenzy across the merchandise.
And whereas American Eagle solely provided a hijab, different clothes retailers such because the hip Japanese model Uniqlo plan to supply much more. Uniqlo’s ‘modest’ fashion line options svelte tunics, excessive-waisted flared pants and belted coats in fairly colors. The thought behind the road, developed by Japanese-British designer Hana Tajima, is that the protection provided will enchantment to Muslim ladies who're on the lookout for that within the garments they buy.
Whether or not or not one thinks ‘modest fashion’ is an oxymoron, the phenomenon is right here to remain.
It's fairly potential that designers are additionally hoping that the ‘present much less’ thought could evolve right into a development that can handle to draw even non-Muslim clients. In any case, it is going to be on the racks of Uniqlo shops quickly, with some gadgets akin to hijabs costing between 5 and 10 .
Retail manufacturers like American Eagle and Uniqlo are solely taking their cue from excessive fashion. Early this July, a ‘modest fashion week’ was held within the Italian metropolis of Turin. Whereas it was no Milan, the occasion was partially sponsored by a UAE-based mostly group that seeks to raise the profile of designers specializing in Muslim ladies’s put on.
Like Istanbul’s fashion week, the occasion featured fairly hued materials, monochrome pantsuits, capes and different related outfits. What occurred in Turin was repeated in Toronto, a metropolis whose massive Muslim inhabitants is an efficient marketplace for the revamped and glamorised hijabs and older kinds. The choices on the Toronto occasion included fashionable jackets with logos and cute cartoon figures.
All these occasions signify the truth that whether or not or not one thinks ‘modest fashion’ is an oxymoron — one phrase of the time period cancelling out the opposite — the phenomenon is right here to remain. Much more curiously, the thought of ‘modest fashion’, and the curious wedding ceremony of consumerism and constancy to religion that it represents, is being ratified not by non secular students or some clerical institution however by the patron selections of girls who usually are not actually inquisitive about having males (clerics or in any other case) dictate what they put on.
That place is, after all, quite completely different from these taken in international locations like Saudi Arabia, the place solely final week, a girl sporting a miniskirt at an archaeological website provoked a world uproar and native censure. That pressure of thought — adamantly insistent as it's on males commanding what ladies put on, say or do — has little curiosity in shopper advertising and marketing, and even in the best way to capitalise on new markets. And it's least inquisitive about catering to ladies as unbiased customers.
From a philosophical perspective, fashion represents a particular alchemy the place components from the previous meet visions of the longer term. This may be seen within the newest textile print or revamped kurta or shalwar — a selected illustration of the current mixed with kinds or motifs from the previous.
At this second, nevertheless, fashion additionally has to do with international coverage. With a world more and more realigning alongside non secular traces, all seen bits of Muslim id — from hijabs to lengthy attire — have develop into emblems of a lot extra than simply that. As soon as reserved for Western societies the place Muslims are in a minority, the politics of professing a visual id — or the thought of being ‘Muslim first’ — is frequent right now even in Muslim-majority societies.
It's no shock, then, that this emergence of id politics within the realm of the fashion world is spurring a shopper market. Within the quest for an area between what's permissible and what will not be, what visibly signifies Islam and what may very well be mistaken for one thing else, Muslim ladies are on the lookout for choices. The unique thought of modesty as an adjective that exists in opposition to ‘flashy’ is not any extra.
To make Islam seen, Muslim ladies have determined to be seen. And to be seen as Muslim ladies, as inhabitants of a selected id, sure sorts of garments — cool, stylish and broadly accessible — are required. The truth that not each outfit comes with an identical headband, that among the tunics hug the determine fairly snugly, that among the colors are too eye-catching, are particulars which are being slowly and rigorously subverted in order that they now not belong within the realm of the cleric however quite that of the fashion designer. In a society the place concepts are present process a change, fashion tendencies that outline its adherents are additionally being remodeled. If attaching modesty to fashion makes fashion permissible and admissible and additionally noticeable, then so be it.
The author is an lawyer instructing constitutional legislation and political philosophy.
Revealed in Daybreak, July 26th, 2017