Fashion and the Muslim girl
Londoner Mariah Idrissi made headlines last month when she appeared in an H&M ad as the brand's first hijab-wearing model.
The move was described by Fortune as fashion "starting to recognise an untapped market of observant Muslim women" and "a move that signals the growing acceptance in British pop culture toward the traditional headscarf".
Mariah Idrissi appears in H&M's ad for its "Close the Gap" campaign. PHOTO: YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB
Muslim women here won't be surprised to hear that.
The "hijabster" — the term associated with young, fashion-conscious Muslim women — is a common sight here.The term is also now commonly used in the Western media.
As pointed out by New York Times, this new generation of Muslim women are posting pictures and videos of themselves and "taking to social media to show off their hijab fashion and stylish examples of modest dressing" and are "making their own mark on hijab culture, while propagating it in a way particular to the 'selfie generation'".
Most of these women started as girls who just wanted to share with the world their outfits of the day (OOTDs) and their interest in fashion.
Some of them have become key fashion influencers with thousands of followers on social media — and even their own fashion businesses.
Local hijabsters were invited to Singapore Fashion Week in May, when online shopping site ZALORA's in-house range, ZALIA and WOO/FIZIWOO from Malaysian brand FIZIWOO, presented collections on the runway.
In June, Japanese retail company Uniqlo launched a modest wear collection, Hana Tajima for Uniqlo, in collaboration with UK-born fashion blogger-designer Hana Tajima.
In a commentary in Fortune magazine, Hana said that she wanted to "create designs that adhere to the Islamic guidelines for dressing, but the main function is to create an inclusive aesthetic that can appeal to anyone".
Instagram personalities here are ecstatic about the progression in mainstream western fashion.
"I think it's really awesome that mainstream brands are opening up to diversity," social media personality Nur Fatin Atiqa told The New Paper in an e-mail interview.
Fatin, who is an educator, has been running her style blog, www.inmyshawls.com, for four years.
"I hope it encourages women in hijab to explore their fashion choices."
Another well known fashion blogger, Nadya Abd, believes that H&M's move is "a terrific development" for the industry.
"Back when I first started blogging during my university days (around 5 years ago), it would have been pretty impossible. I believe they realise that their consumers are made of not just non-Muslims but millions of Muslim girls around the world.
"It's no longer about the Muslim girl trying to fit in, instead, it's these big fashion companies trying to create something that will suit the Muslim girl."
Mareenah A. Ghani, whose passion for fashion inspired her to open her own boutique last April, was also positive about the move.
"It's definitely a good stepping stone to promoting modesty, done moderately. Besides, there's more reason to shop at Uniqlo and H&M now!"
Nur Fatin Atiqah, 25, Educator
Since: "I started blogging in November 2011. I was already posting up my #ootds on Facebook and Instagram."
Style: "I would say it is a mix of normcore and minimalist. I am not too keen on heavy patterns and colours but I love the monochromatic look. I usually keep my accessories minimal, opting for a simple black watch on my wrist."
Things to keep in mind when picking outfits: "Find a hijab style that fits your style and lifestyle. When you have found THE style, it will be yours forever. My rule to dressing up is — less is more. Above all, confidence and comfort is the best outfit anyone can wear. There are no rules in fashion."
Fatin dropped by our office to give us a tutorial on a few easy-to-wear hijab styles!
Nadya Abd, 25, Educator
Since: "I started a Tumblr site during my university days, compiling looks from various Hijab girls in Singapore."
Style: "There are moments when I experiment with unique pieces, and there are times when I stick to basics. I believe in wearing what you feel most comfortable in. There is no point forcing yourself to dress up then feeling that all you want to do is to go home and take it off."
Things to keep in mind when picking outfits: "For hijab styles, to me, there is only one rule — make sure it covers your chest. I always make sure that I’m wearing something that represents my religion. There is no harm in experimenting with fashion just as long as you keep within the guidelines."
Mareenah A. Ghani, 21, Student and Founder of @maqayla
Since: "I began in 2010 when I was 16. I casually posted photos of my outfits on my Facebook page. People started requesting for tutorials so I created a lifestyle blog instead."
Style: "I'd say my personal style is versatile. Personally, I like keeping it simple and mix prints with plains."
Things to keep in mind when picking outfits: "It's good to go out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Go a little over the top and try a wacky style. You never know, that might just be your new comfort zone. It's better to regret the things you wear than to regret the things you didn't wear, so go for it."
Atiqah Zulkifli, 24, Beauty Buyer
Since: "When I started wearing the hijab in 2013, I started posting photos of my OOTDs. At the same time, I had a beauty blog which is a space for me to write beauty product reviews, tutorials and even post a bit on my outfits."
Style: "My style depends on my mood. I don't really stick to a specific style. Some days I feel girly, so I'll grab a dress and some flat sandals. On some days, I want to wear my Huaraches and pants. I also have lazy days when I just want to wear a shirt and a pair of jeans."
Things to keep in mind when picking outfits: "Stock up on dresses or oversized shirts. On days you have no idea what to wear, dresses will be your saviour."