With the increased demand for diversity, we’re seeing fashion brands create more inclusive pieces for Muslims. These include high-end abayas, designer burkinis, and affordable modest clothing.
Whilst this is a step in the right direction in making modest clothing more accessible and visible in the public sphere, it’s also unintentionally creating something else; we’re now in the era of the fashion hijab.
The Birth of the Fashion Hijab
High-end brands have been revered for their inclusivity in creating branded hijabs. Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Dior are to name a few.
These high fashion hijabs are a display to highlight how the white, Western, secular, thin-bodied, norms of the fashion industry are becoming more and more “inclusive.”
On the other hand, the hypocrisy of revelling in a multinational business to showcase tolerance of something that’s often labelled as ‘threatening’ and ‘regressive’ is visibly distinguishable.
High fashion hijabs aren’t meant to embrace and represent Islam in its original form. Instead, it’s aiming to change the landscape of meaning, and present the hijab in a more palatable way to a secular audience.
Whilst it may seem innocent, deeper thought highlights how combining a spiritual piece of clothing with secular capitalistic connotations can be dangerous.
The hijab is not meant to be a fashion statement, however, it is being commodified to be seen as such.
To read more about how capitalism subverts Islam, click here.
Reminders of the Hijab
Wearing the hijab is something that is meant to help support women [and men] to feel closer to Allah and help them reach spiritual enlightenment.
Instead, branded hijabs entice people to pursue the fantasy of social status. It refashions Islam as a ‘culture’ whilst hitting the trendy ‘diversity’ aesthetic. This creates a more comfortable and digestible version of Islam as it’s presented as a display of culture as opposed to a public expression of faith.
Does High fashion represent Muslims authentically?
Halima Aden made headlines globally when she became the first Muslim supermodel. She headed magazines such as Vogue, and Sports Illustrated and a variety of high fashion brands. Her name and face are known to many, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Yet despite being at the height of her career, she told BBC she’d never been more unhappy, resulting in her quitting the industry for good.
She stated, “I eventually drifted away and got into the confusing grey area of letting the team on-set style my hijab.”
In the last year of her career, her hijab got smaller and smaller, and sometimes instead of the hijab, she wrapped jeans, or other clothes and fabrics, around her head [i].
As Muslims, we should be very careful and critical of cultural institutions within our society when it comes to representation. Sometimes, what appears as advances for Muslims in mainstream society isn’t what it appears to be. Islam isn’t meant to agree with capitalism, in fact, it goes against the very core of it.