Hijab & Fashion Mainstream

It is generally perceived, that a woman’s hair is her beauty, but in many other cultures women have kept their hair covered. In the Islamic faith, females cover their heads with a garment known as the hijab because they feel that they are reflecting one’s personal devotion to God. While women have worn the hijab for centuries, it is only recently that fashion designers and bloggers have elevated its fashionable status with different styles, colors, patterns, and fabrics.

Despite some apprehension from people towards fashioning of the hijab, it appears that the trend is becoming more popular among women of the modern era. A 2014-2015 State of Global Islamic Economy Report, compiled by Thomson Reuters, said that the $266 billion was spent on Islamic fashion in 2013, and it predicted $484 billion would be spent by 2019.

Hijabs were in the fashion spotlight in 2016, particularly during New York and London Fashion Weeks. They were also featured in advertisements for popular clothing stores like H&M. And Nura Afia, a Muslim beauty blogger, made headlines this fall when she became the first woman to be featured in the hijab for COVERGIRL cosmetics new campaign.

In a statement, Nura expressed her excitement over the opportunity.

“It feels so surreal. Honestly, growing up and being insecure about wearing the hijab I never thought I would see Muslim women represented on such a large scale. It means the world to me and I’m so honored to be a part of this campaign with COVERGIRL,” she said.
“It’s important that beauty brands like CoverGirl cast a diverse range of people for their campaigns. CoverGirl is known for casting huge boundary breakers like Queen Latifah, Katy Perry, Janelle Monae, and Ellen DeGeneres. I couldn’t be happier, I love COVERGIRL as a brand and everything they stand for — they really believe in beauty for all,” she added.

Designer Melanie Elturk has helped bring the hijab into the mainstream with her site Haute Hijab, established in 2010. Women can purchase hijabs with floral designs, pastels, nautical and more.

“I saw that there was a void in the market place for women like myself who wear the hijab, so I thought, okay, why don’t we just do it for ourselves?” said Elturk in an interview.

It’s a movement that is appreciated by many hijab wearers.

“It makes awareness, it does open the eyes of a lot of people that don’t know much about Islam. Islam is not something that oppresses women or human beings, it is about expressing your talent,” said Sofie Palaj, a math teacher at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science III in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

But the hijab is a symbol of modesty and dignity, therefore to highlight it as a fashion statement brings about controversy.

“In my opinion, the hijab is of course modesty and is also submission to Allah, so I think it is important for us to find balance in fashion to make sure that we are being modest and also fashionable not swinging away from our morals,” said Aliyah Hakimel, a spoken-word poet for the Hijabi Chronicles an online website for Muslim women.

“I think it can be a conflict, because I feel like there are some people who will try to be too modern and too trendy basically of where it clashes with the standards of modest wear, so I think we just have to be careful with that, to not be too influenced with what the trends are. We have to put our own spin to those trends but keep it modest,” she continued.

The old-school way of thinking is that the hijab should be worn just one basic way with little to no emphasis on styles, colors, and patterns. However, there are some Muslim women who have challenged this concept and embarked upon expressing their gift and talent of a fashionable sense of style along with trying to maintain modesty.

“Faith dwells on the inner beauty and fashion and style deals with the outer beauty. It is therefore important that I am able to identify with the principles of my faith for dressing and understand how to synchronize my fashion sense and stylishness with my faith,” said Naballah Chi, of Chaguanas in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, in an email interview, who is a full- time fashion designer, stylist, model and the fashion brand ambassador for self-named company.

Traditionally, the colors and styles of hijabs were plain solid colors such as black, white, and nude colors worn as a one-piece to the waist with a roundish-flair cut at the bottom and sometimes with a triangular shaped cut with broad lace trimmings at the edges.

“It is unclear of when exactly these styles of hijabs came out, but what I understand they have been around since the early years of the Islamic faith. Even though they are not worn by many young Muslim women today, they are still worn by many of the older-middle aged female Muslim population,” said Pansy Habiba Jaiman, a health care provider for surgical patients at the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

Jaiman added: “I am against the fashion of hijabs in terms of different styles and colors because a Muslim woman should not be flashy as to draw attention to themselves, especially in a Muslim nation where men and women are viewed and treated differently.”

But due to fashion’s evolving influence, the hijab now has numerous colors and styles that can rock a girl’s world with eye-catching details such as diamantes( little, shiny designs that resembles diamonds), sequins, and hand-crafted beading. Styles are no different, ranging from options such as: shawls/scarves, three pieces of garments woven into one, turbans, draping,and layering emphasising each individual’s style and personality.

“When it’s fall I like to wear orange or red, maybe dark purple, but when it’s the summer I usually like to wear yellow, so I mean it’s a combination of both what I feel and depending on the weather,” said Yasmeena Rasheed, an Instagram hijabi/modest fashion blogger.

“When I see fall leaves, I feel like I want to wear red and orange, and I like to do turbans and sweaters like high turtlenecks when it’s a little colder and when it’s hot I like to just wear it normally so my neck won’t show,”

Online purchases may still be a best option if one is looking for the most fashion-forward and high-end hijabs since there is more unusual styles, patterns, and colors.

While there aren’t a large variety of hijabs available in popular department stores, yet, there are stores throughout the tri-state area that specializes in fashionable hijabs at reasonable prices ranging between $10 to $30.

“It is our number one best-selling item, it’s our focus since we specialize in custom made hijabs. We have the biggest selection of hijabs since we have the material and you choose it and we make it for you on the spot under five minutes so it’s our number one selling item,” said Shaza Alhussein, the manager at Bent Al-Sultan an Islamic Fashion store in Clifton, New Jersey.

The hijab has come a long way from simplicity to extravagance, from casual stores to designer brands, and from the walkway to the runway, as competitive fashion item in a modest setting. A path has now been paved for future designers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs to capitalize on an industry of unlimited potential.

“I love it,” said Elturk.

“I think a lot of people have their hesitancies. For me, I think that anybody who’s doing the work of normalizing hijab in the mainstream I’m all for it,” she continued. “People see that there is a void in the marketplace and they’re just trying to fill it, I love the idea and at the same time I also do my work of normalizing it, so I’m all about it.”