Halaal fashion has become the new buzzword in the fashion industry as D&G, Nike and other major brands launch new collections of abayas and headscarves under their labels. In fact, Forbes called the launch by D&G, their “smartest move in years” and they have been hailed as ‘progressive.’
For many, this was an exciting development in the fashion world but should this trend be applauded? Major fashion brands have made a calculated business moves empty of any real intention of being more inclusive of its Muslim clientele.
Look at the facts, D&G has 13 stores in the UAE and other surrounding Gulf states and the sales of luxury items in the Middle East reaching $8.7 billion in 2015 it is difficult to understand where the sincerity for inclusivity and not monetary standing reflects. Let us look further and you will notice that the sports collection in the ad campaigns has only Caucasian models. A fact many miss!
In essence, these brands are profiting and monopolising from something that does not belong to them. The pseudo incorporation of the hijab and abayas, pieces of clothing that many in the Western worldview as offensive and oppressive is providing them with monetary gain. Adding a bit of lace, ribbon and embroidering your name on it certainly does not change it from being oppressive and backwards to fashionable and beautiful.
The Western world views culture and faith as one and the same thing. This is yet another ploy as the fashion lines are marketed to the Middle Eastern clientele, a small but elite market, as opposed to the millions of Muslims in Africa, Asia and Europe.
And the Muslim world is amazed and impressed! What about the Malaysian Muslim fashion designers or the thousands of African, American and British fashion designers and bloggers that have been trying for decades to break into mainstream markets and pushing for inclusivity and representation in the fashion sphere? Where is the hype and talk about these women who share their passion for Muslim clothing and are creative, innovative and understand the needs of their fellow sisters?
Are we Muslim women allowing ourselves to be reduced to just the abaya and headscarf? Are we as Muslimahs perpetuating the lies of the Western world that Muslims women cannot enjoy the freedom to dress, be modest, follow trends and have fun with their clothing whilst keeping our religious laws?
More importantly, how can we allow those who stand in judgement of our religious dress code to understand our needs? Are we testifying that having a major brand fashion label attached to our clothing means it is more acceptable to us? This is subtle propaganda that distorts the narrative that many Muslim women within the fashion realm are trying to change.
As the world celebrates the so-called inclusion of the Muslim women into the fashion world, we fail to realise that we are being excluded and marginalised under the guise of “progressive thinking.” Take away the recognised names from these lines and what we have are the same garments already created by Muslim and worn by Muslim women but not celebrated or acknowledged in the same manner.
Let’s give the Muslim sisters the chance to flourish in this industry, by recognising their talent and skill and allowing them to stamp their names on the clothing we wear but more importantly let’s put our stamp on the world as a united Muslim sisterhood in favour of our religious code which shows our love for our Creator.