Fashion Bytes — Hijab-friendly Fashion

The Guardian’s Fashion blog ran a piece in late April titled “Is Muslim fashion finally ‘on trend’? The same day a slideshow of “Hijab friendly fashion” options also went up on the website. It was a very short amount of time before Threadbared‘s response of “EYEROLL” to the piece’s title appeared on Twitter and was taken up by many others. Perhaps rightly so.

The blog’s tone is rather flippant and even dismissive of the debates and discussions regarding the hijab. If it was an attempt to cast aside the identity politics arguments and instead focus on the idea that modern British (or any nationality, really) Muslim women should have more options to express their identities through clothing while maintaining their modesty, it failed. The snarky tone — and later patronizing advice on layering as the proper solution — undermined and obliterated any good intentions if they had existed. No one wants to be talked down to or have the issues they face regarding racial stereotypes belittled.

But it does raise a very good question: why do “high street” fashion retailers largely ignore the needs of their Muslim clientele? If fashion is a business — and the blog post makes this very apparent by pointing out that the global market for Muslim fashion is worth $96 millionwhy is such a large portion of potential clientele being ignored? Is it due to ignorance on the part of the designers? Do they think that all Muslim women wear the abaya and burqa and have no interest in Western fashion? If fashion is a form of self expression, is it more respectful to simply leave things as they are so that Muslim women, like women everywhere, can create their own style? What do you think of the phrase “Muslim fashion”? What is Muslim fashion, or what should it be? Is even this controversial blogpost a sign that, despite laws against veils and headscarves in France, Muslim identity is becoming more broadly accepted by society? Is it unexpected that the voices largely unheard in the debate about the hijab are the voices of the women who wear them? Is this a sign that progress still needs to be made regarding women in society? Or is it proof that what we wear can be a way for society at large to ostracize groups they didn’t want to include in the first place? What are your opinions of The Guardian’s post?

Please share your thoughts.

Image via Khushbu Fashions, UK advert

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1 Comment

  • jacqueline May 09, 2012 12.21 am

    The article was absolutely flippant and patronizing. I really want to hear from women who wear the hijab, because as a Westerner who has limited knowledge of Muslim culture, I feel any opinion I might have on “Muslim fashion” would be based on assumptions.


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