Aug 26, 2013

‘Project Hijabi’: The Muslim Fashion Label - PART 2

By Anum Ali

Read Part 1 here


In Part 1 we looked at how we can be muslim and also look trendy and fashionable within limits. Let us now look at other aspects of the fashion industry.

Selling the Muslim Fashion Label the Halal Way
If the label says Muslim, it must be marketed, distributed, and sold the Halal way i.e. with modesty. The reason behind the resistance in using the word “Muslim Fashion” is the dirty picture of the existing fashion industry. Unfortunately, the physical exposure and exhibition of females, beauty politics in pageants and competitions, and inappropriate messaging and imagery have crawled gradually into the Muslim zone of fashion.

Islamic countries, predominantly the United Arab Emirates, have transformed into the Paris of Muslim fashion. They host a series of Muslim fashion shows in which under the Muslim label, some serious dressing compromises are seen in the runway designs put forward by Muslim fashion designers. The objection comes up the instant you see a Muslim model cat-walking down the runway with paparazzi snapping photos for print and broadcast. It becomes a nightmare when a jilbab range comes up revealing necklines and sheer fabrics.

The image of a Muslim woman is synonymous with modesty, shyness, humble grace, and simplicity. Posing for hundreds of tabloid-thirsty media men, while standing in an awkwardly crooked pose; chests thrust forward and hips arch backwards, Muslim fashion models instantaneously replicate the innovation of non-Muslims. The Muslim fashion label then serves the purpose of altering the image of Islam.

The best way to sell a Muslim label is to organize female-only exhibitions which do not employ runway models but take on an art exhibition-like approach. Mannequins work just fine unlike dances and catwalks which are simply immodest. Another recommendation is to avoid outrageous dresses to make them look like peacock feathers, bat wings, and what not.

The Positives of Fashion: The Muslim Fashion Statement
The beneficial aspect of fashion can be associated with personal grooming and self-development which essentially means that dressing, makeup, and accessory trends come with sensible fashion advice. The Muslim fashion statement honors Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s creations, follows the Sunnah, and functions within parameters of modesty in attire and mannerisms. Fashion categories for Muslim women should be suited to match their daily lives and not consist of replicas of Hollywood red carpet outfits.

Fashion categories could begin with ‘Religious Wear’ such as jilbabs and niqabs and move onto ‘Professional Wear’ suited for the working Muslim woman incorporating sophisticated blazers and smart skirts. Then a ‘Casual Wear’ category can also be introduced. Developments in Muslim fashion have helped reinstate some of the Islamic parameters which signify that a Muslim fashion statement is a statement of an Islamic lifestyle. For example, many Hijab observing ladies were compromising their Hijabs for their wedding day simply because they did not have enough styling sense to incorporate it into their wedding dress. Hijab fashion moguls such as Amena Khamkar of Pearl Daisy have helped Muslim women around the world incorporate the Hijab beautifully into any form of outfit for any occasion.

Muslim Women in the Fashion Industry
Many popular Muslim names operate in the fashion industry such as Sarah Elenany and Rabia-Z. A lot of them have faced criticism for their work and participation in the glitz and glam which comes with several non-Islamic mannerisms. Some exceptionally skilled fashion designers, however, have preserved the Muslim image very well.

In 2012, the world saw Philippines’ 21-year-old Fatima Guerrero making her way into the final rounds of Project Runway Philippines. The TV show is a brilliant platform for novice fashion designers. Overall, this industry is worth pursuing provided that Muslim women aim to attend a respectable fashion school or personal training program. The idea is to keep your heads on your shoulders in compliance with Islamic codes of life so as to avoid the obvious hazards of the industry.

Cutting the Beauty Politics
Crafted standards of perfection such as a size-zero figure, pouted lips, high cheekbones, tall height, tanned (or fair in Asian countries) complexion, polished teeth, augmented breast and bottom sizes, etc. are some of the concepts introduced by “politicians” of the fashion industry. Starting off with adult runway models, these trends have spiraled to include teenagers and adolescents. It is devastating to see young girls, starting at age three even, undergo brutal transformation to participate in beauty pageants. Beauty politics, introduced by fashion industry moguls, involve judging Allah's creations and altering them brutally to fit crafted standards of perfection. This aspect of the fashion industry, therefore, falls beyond the parameters of religion.

Muslim fashion glorifies the natural beauty in human beings and is not about re-creating individuals but developing their true potential. Cosmetics can be used for beautification in order to secure a sense of self-esteem or to please one’s husband. But women must realize they should not be showing off to non-mehrams nor change their physical features, for example by threading eyebrows or getting Botox.

“Project Hijabi” – A Potential Fashion TV Show
This thesis on Muslim fashion can be concluded on a witty, but potentially profitable note. There could very well be a Muslim fashion competition for reality TV – the “Project Hijabi”. The challenges given to potential participants would be to follow the parameters set by the Quran and Sunnah and design Halal Muslim wear!

(1)Krista. (2012). Fashion designers, how not to study gender, and more on Iran’s women ninjas. Retrieved from
(2)Sobh, M. (2010). Project Runway’s Nina Garcia on hijab fashion. Retrieved from

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


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