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.

By Bruce Kennedy Jan 29, 2013 10:35AM

Young woman wearing a hijab (Image Source/Getty Images)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."


More on moneyNOW

Tags: Retail
110Comments
Jan 29, 2013 4:13PM
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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. 

Jan 29, 2013 4:10PM
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Go back to frickin' camel jockey country if you want to dress like that. If you stay here then dress normal and speak ENGLISH!
Jan 29, 2013 4:06PM
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Fashion and Muslim. Now there are two words almost never seen in one sentence.
Jan 29, 2013 4:06PM
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they need to drop these cartoonish costumes, just like catholics dropped the veil. Leave them for customary or family events.   we don't wear this stuff in the USA. for many reasons. knock it off, you came here for a better life, leave the old stuff behind.  
Jan 29, 2013 4:00PM
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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.   

Jan 29, 2013 3:58PM
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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. 

Jan 29, 2013 3:47PM
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i wish muslims can just go away...all they do is steal kids outta elementary schoolsl!!!!!!
Jan 29, 2013 3:46PM
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In many Muslim controlled areas if a Muslim woman do not 'cover up' she will be assaulted, publicy whipped, and possibly executed...nudge nudge wink wink...it's their culture not their religion.....hahahahaha....
Jan 29, 2013 3:40PM
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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!

 

Jan 29, 2013 3:36PM
Jan 29, 2013 3:09PM
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customs will likely change soon enough.  By and large people, women esp. , do not want to be seen as remarkably different than current fashion wherever they are.  Are there any of you left alive that remember when a Catholic woman could not enter a church uncovered, i.e. without a hat or scarf?  How about when men and women did not sit together but on different sides of a church?  Do you remember when men actually wore hats and were not considered properly dressed without one?  How about a little more patience and (from some) a little less hostile prejudice.
Jan 29, 2013 3:06PM
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all of you must be idiots because it is not talking about the religion it talking about clothing. all of this bad things that people say about islam because of some bad people who believe in it makes me sick to my stomach. with all the preists out there rapping and touching little boys that are catholic is ok and no one really speak on that!!!! Or how about the pastors that sleep with women in the church but christians are ok too....I love being a muslim and would not change it for the world and so what if i wear the muslim grabs it me seperated from the idiots...
Jan 29, 2013 3:04PM
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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.

Jan 29, 2013 3:01PM
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Outside of the USA wear what you want but if your in country acclimate yourself to what Americans wear.. if you want to stay here blend in and stop wearing your ridiculous dots, robes, head wraps, and all of the other stupid shi*.. when in rome do as the romans.. same applies here.. you want to wear that garb do it at your own homeland, not here.. just makes you look stupid anyways.
Jan 29, 2013 2:58PM
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I'm glad that the American fashion market is opening up to different cultures and religious styles. It means they are ready to accept Muslims for who they are, and not some vicious stereotype that many Americans gained after 9/11, and the war in Iraq hasn't helped them either. I think that dressing modestly and with class is the way to go, and making a market for Muslim women, who already have such few choices, is the first step in acceptance. All these hurtful comments about telling them to go back to the Middle East is cruel, because you know what is funny? Not everyone who is Muslim is Middle Eastern. I know many American women who are white and Muslim, so where would they go?

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!
Jan 29, 2013 2:53PM
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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.

Jan 29, 2013 2:47PM
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Muhammad was completely illiterate, so in fact his "words" were passed on, not his writings because there are none, which makes it not completely clear that anything he truly said was even followed, and who the hell cares what he supposedly said anyway?  Any so called "religion" that demands you "hide" yourself, or dress modestly, and demands you get on your knees with rear in the air 5 times a day, 7 days a week is way way more than a religion, it's called indoctrination.  In reality is called being sheep like, and Islam revels in collective stupidity. 
Jan 29, 2013 2:44PM
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Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,

 

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!!!

 

Jan 29, 2013 2:43PM
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The Muslim world has a long way to go.  A long, long way.  Even in wealthy educated countries like Saudi Arabia, their culture and religion is way to extreme.  All you have to do is remember how the religious police wouldn't allow girls to exit a burning building because they fled without their head scarves.  The wouldn't open the gates and they wouldn't allow other men to save the girls because it was "sinful" to do so!!!
Jan 29, 2013 2:36PM
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For me, I'm perfectly happy being an American woman and dressing as such. I don't find anything attractive about muslim garb so I will pass on this latest fashion.

 

While I agree that in enticing a man a bit of mystery can be a good thing, I don't find anything enticing or cute in Muslim dress.

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