This year Dolce & Gabbana joined the ranks of innovative fashion designers by creating a line of designer couture hijabs and abayas. Muslim girls and women in hijabs, including those in full abayas, are often the most stylish ones of my friends, family and peers so it’s great to see the fashion industry finally catering to these women, who undeniably make up a significant portion of their market from shoes, to bags, all the way down to jewelry.
Other retailers, like H&M and DKNY, have also been notable in the past year for catering to Muslim women in their use of hijab-wearing models. In summer 2014, DKNY launched a collection specifically catered to “Muslim-friendly” clothing for the month of Ramadan. For anyone, fashion choices and style are a huge part in expressing self-identity. For women who choose to proudly sport a hijab or an abaya, it’s an intrinsic part of their self-expression, so why shouldn’t they be given as many options as the rest of us are when shopping at our favorite stores?
Debuting intrinsically patterned hijabs, as well as detailed lace and embroidered abayas, Dolce & Gabbana has taken that step in allowing more women to be themselves, and to do so fashionably in their own right. In fact, while the collection is catered toward women who wear hijabs or abayas, any woman would be lucky to be able to wear the rich, long-flowing dresses that exhibit both classic elegance and style.
While D&G has opened the gates for more high-fashion houses to follow in example, not all people can afford or are understandably willing to spend that much on any item of clothing. So what about everyone else? It is time that more everyday ready-to-wear retailers start embracing these broader fashion needs. I can go to the mall tomorrow and find an outfit for any type of personality, age or fashion sense, so why should Muslim women not be catered to as well?
Taking true pride and putting conscious thought into what they wear and how they wear it, Muslim women — those wearing a hijab, abaya or none at all — often find it hard to reconcile dressing fashionably with dressing modestly. Especially in today’s society where “less is more” seems to be the ongoing trend amongst millennials around the world.
By no means is the Dolce & Gabbana collection perfect; in fact, there have been many issues with the marketing of the line in general. Debuting the designer hijabs with non-Muslim, white models definitely hovers over the line of cultural and religious appropriation. It also leaves Muslim women for whom the line was tailored a bit excluded.
So, no, it’s not perfect, but I guess in the midst of a society wracked by Islamophobia and the ignorant rants of Donald Trump threatening a ban on Muslims, it’s not only comforting, but crucial, to see companies and designers embracing both the hijab and the abaya.