Australia: Muslim fashion steps closer to the mainstream
By: Widyan AL Ubudy
One of the most popular Australian Muslim fashion labels gaining national and international recognition is Hijab House.
Leading the way in faith fashion, Hijab House aims to provide stylish, modest clothing for young Muslim women, and the Australian fashion industry is taking notice.
It’s is set to feature in this year’s FASHFEST, Canberra’s very own rendition of Sydney and Melbourne fashion week.
Producer of FASHFEST, Steven Wright says, “We look for designs that reflects a contemporary Australian society and in doing that you end up with a lot of diversity. You know it reflects our multicultural heritage.”
Tarik Houcher says he’s nervous for his label’s runway debut: “I had no idea FASHFEST was this big when we went to rehearsals I was gob smacked… I’m actually quiet nervous because it’s a really big space so I have to deal with my emotions.”
There are now over 20 stores open in Sydney catering for modest clothing, many of which are located in the areas on Bankstown and Lakemba.
With almost 40 per cent of Muslims born in Australia, the demand for modest yet stylish clothing is bursting at the seams.
But the line between what’s fashionable and religiously acceptable is a tight one to walk and Tarik says the balance isn’t always an easy one.
“We try our best to design our clothing that kind of caters to both needs, making the woman feel confident and beautiful and making her feel secure and modest,’ he said.
Muslim Australian women are also turning to the web to form their Australian Muslim fashion identity, where Muslim fashion bloggers are attracting millions of followers and inspiring a unique modest style.
Tasneem Chopra, Curator of Faith, Fashion Fusion at the Melbourne Immigration Museum is one such designer.
“My ‘look’ isn’t connected to any one particular designer or stylist. My personal style could be described as vintage, with tribal elements,” she said.
“This reflects my connection to my Kenyan background as well as my love for elegant and graceful lines. It’s literally a fusion of styles that I believe reflect my personality.”
Fashion bloggers like ‘Dina-Tokio’ from the UK and ‘Dalalid’ from Kuwait, are setting worldwide trends by incorporating popular fashion to comply with Islamic dress codes, and their followers are taking their tips.
“I believe the Australian trend rise correlates with our embrace of social media platforms that have bought to bear the accessibility of fashion styles at ones fingertips, at virtually no cost,” Tasneem told SBS.
“The ‘blogging age’ has made everyday consumers into self-appointed pundits and players in the social media fashion scene. Fashion is fair game.”
For Muslim women, dress is a fundamental part of their Islamic lifestyle. It embodies a moral and behavioural code and although dress sense and style may differ globally, modesty remains the foundation for all Muslim women.