Fashion designers hope to appeal to Muslim women
Some clothing companies see a big opportunity in catering to Muslims and other women who want to dress modestly, but fashionably.
A group of fashion designers in Southern California are attempting to tap into a market that, for many outside of it, might seem very inaccessible: Muslim women.
The Los Angeles Times reports some regional clothing designers see a huge opportunity in helping women in the Muslim community dress fashionably.
Those designers are looking for customers such as LaTanya Maassanri, a postal carrier in Long Beach.
"We are Muslim and we can still express ourselves, be fashionable, as long as we do it in a halal way,” she told the Times, referring to upholding Islamic law. "But unless you have lots of money or lots of time to shop, it's been hard for years to find clothes in America that aren't dowdy."
Companies like Mohajababes -- a play on the word Muhajiba ( someone who wears the traditional Muslim hijab or head scarf) and babes -- are looking to dress Muslim women who want to stay true to their faith, but who are ready to break away from the traditional black.
"Trying to conform to Muslim dress codes, you get stuck in a rut of black, black, black all the time," said Afra Said-Ahmed, who launched Mohajababes with her sister. "It's definitely very difficult, especially in the U.S. You want to fit in, but still be appropriately dressed."
The sisters started their company with $2,000 and a modest approach, selling hijab accessories as well as embroidered and bejeweled kaftans in a variety of colors and cloths.
"We are passionate about bringing alternative evening wear to those who would like to dress modestly and express themselves through their clothing at the same time," the company’s website says about its kaftans.
Some of these designers are getting push-back from conservative Muslims, who are upset by any brightly-colored or adorned clothing on Muslim women. The Mohajababes website also has a blog where the company has responded to such criticism.
Part of the issue, according to University of Kentucky professor Anna Secor, is the wide difference between what is considered acceptable in different Islamic countries.
"What exactly is the boundary of modesty is contested and a lot of people don't agree," she said in an interview with the Times. "This tension of fashion and Islamic modesty is something women deal with every day of their lives."
Like a lot of other designers, the people and companies specializing in Muslim clothing would like their fashion lines to eventually go mainstream and be available in major retail outlets -- for women of any faith who want to dress modestly but with a sense of flair.
British designer Barjis Chohan, in an interview with the Guardian, estimated the potential of the international Muslim fashion market at around $96 million.
"[Being] properly covered is the main idea," Toronto college student Sadiyya Ali recently told the Globe and Mail. "But I like to look cute while I'm covered, too."
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A hundred and some years ago many American women dressed a lot more like conservative Muslims with long black dresses and hats with veils, and a glimpse of leg or even ankle was quite risque to some. At that time, Western women actually had fewer rights than many Muslim women, at least in terms of marriage and property. Then along with feminist gains and the right to vote, skirt lengths started going up. Yet clergy and other conservative elements of society
hypocritically opposed women wearing trousers, which are much more modest attire than skirts, and that took much longer to change.
Conservative Muslims trying to dress "fashionably" are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They've got 1 foot in the Middle Ages and 1 foot in the modern Western world, straddling the abyss of cultural difference. They're like well to do Muslim American hypocrites who enjoy the privileges and luxuries of their Western lifestyle but on Halloween yank their kids away from trick-and-treating and off to the mosque for a tame party they call "Halaloween" where they give the kids a religion quiz and hand out candy bags.
I truely, truely believe this is just another insidious step in the path that will become the takeover of The Land of the Free and the Brave. Do not pooh-pooh any minute move Islam makes. They're here. And their aim is to make us bow down to them. Or die. Period.
I saw a woman in a laundromat dressed in the "traditional" muslim dress. She blew her runny nose in her "dress" and acted like it was perfectly normal. YUK. That's the one big difference between her and me. I would have used a kleenix or tp or anything but certainly not my shirt. Again I say YuK!
Muslim women should dress in whatever makes them feel comfortable and not ostracized. We don't harass our Amish women or the Hutterite women out west who wear "modest" clothing. When you consider that the Geishas once wore "modest" silks and had their feet bound and our ladies from India wear their beautifully colored saris, what possible difference can it make what a Muslim woman chooses to wear.
Quite frankly, as a woman, I believe today's fashions are hideous. Has anyone seen those gladiator shoes that weight 20 lbs. per foot, with 5 inch high heels and look like something out of a Roman arena? Anyone who looks at what US fashion designers are showing on their runways today can't possibly think the bulked out real American woman is akin to these malnurished scarecrows.
As for some of the shortest hems, puhlease...the sight of some other woman's rear or worse, is not exactly my idea of "fashion." They're either hanging out of their dresses on top or there isn't enough of a hem to call it a postage stamp.
Be open-minded people. Just because it's religious clothing and you don't agree with said religion, doesn't mean you have to be cruel about it. I hope Muslim women will enjoy this fashion breakthrough! Kudos to the fashion designer!
Just watched the Sex in the City2 last night. Its just make me think how backward they are towards their women. VERY-VERY RIGID.
Just see the movie especially when they re in Abu Dhabi.
Do most Americans really GAS what these people wear, if they want to be amongst their culture then go back home and dress in your sheets there.
Frankly this crap piss's me off, I suggest anyone of you go to one of these Middle Eastern Countries and try and instill your lifestyle there, want to bet the outcome???
If you want to be an American then be one, if you want to be Middle Eastern then go back to the Middle East, you made a Mental Choice and came here, no one here made you come!!!
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