PA: ISLAMIC DRESS GOES HIGH-FASHION
Muslim fashion is more than burkas and chadors. It’s a hot industry that is heating up in the United States, especially among African-American Muslims.
Sakina Uqdah shops at the Al-Furqan Bazaar on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at least once a week. “The skirts…I love the skirts and the pants outfits,” she gushes. “He has a couple of pants outfits and it’s the color. He just has so many different varieties of style and it’s like every week. I come in here and I get mad because I say ‘You have something new in’ and I have to get it.” She laughs as she admits, “I get upset when he has something new and I haven’t seen it first.”
Mervin Khalil Ghani has owned the Al-Furqan Bazaar for 15 years. He says he and his wife decide what to stock in the shop. “There are a few factors; primarily what I think would sell. Some things are in more demand than others like the Islamic dress. What we normally call the over-garment. And other things are more non-traditional that Muslims as well as non-Muslims can wear. Like the blouse and skirts and suits and those types of things.”
More and more, American Muslim women are mixing and matching their outfits, incorporating Islamic with Western styles. Sakina’s non-Muslim friends regularly join her in shopping at Ghani’s boutique “because of the African styles he has,” she says. “I have a girlfriend who is a Christian. She and her husband come here and shop. The neighborhood comes for the jewelry. So there is something here for the entire family.”
Muslim women around the world are also finding something they like in the growing Islamic fashion industry. Young designers are infusing traditional styles with a modern sensibility. Models showed off designer burqas and colorful over-garments in July, in Kabul’s first fashion show in decades. Tehran also hosted a fashion week this summer, albeit with more traditional styles. The International Festival of African Fashion has attracted European designers Yves Saint Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier, hoping to appeal to Muslim women.
Recognizing an untapped market, major clothing retailers are highlighting how their top name fashions — like a tailored jacket by Anne Klein or a long ruffled skirt by Ralph Lauren — already meet the Islamic requirement of full coverage.