MORE BIG FASH­ION BRANDS ARE SELLING HIJABS

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SARA BAUKNECHT

COULD THE HI­JAB be fash­ion’s new trend­ing ac­ces­sory?

For fall 2017, teen re­tailer Amer­i­can Ea­gle de­buted a denim hi­jab as part of its collection of re­freshed denim fits, washes and fab­ri­ca­tions. In the ad cam­paign, it’s worn by a smil­ing Hal­ima Aden, a So­mali-Amer­i­can model who signed with IMG Mod­els ear­lier this year. (In keep­ing with the com­pany’s re­cent fash­ion-for-all men­tal­ity, other pho­tos and videos fea­ture ath­letes, mu­si­cians and mod­els — “hand­picked for their abil­ity to break stereo­types” — of vary­ing body types and skin tones.)

For the cam­paign, the hi­jab — a sym­bol of mod­esty and re­li­gious de­vo­tion worn by Mus­lim women — is styled to look fresh and fun, paired with a denim but­ton-down shirt, olive jacket and navy flo­ral frock lay­ered over pants. It was priced at $19.95 and sold out in less than two weeks.

This re­lease comes on the heels of Nike’s an­nounce­ment ear­lier this year that it plans to make avail­able next spring a “Pro Hi­jab,” done in black with sig­na­ture Nike “swoosh” logo. It’s been de­signed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mus­lim ath­letes and will be made from a dark, breath­able polyester fabric.

Any com­pany that takes strides to di­ver­sify the stan­dard of beauty de­serves credit. (Ku­dos to Amer­i­can Ea­gle and Nike, too, for show­ing their re­spec­tive hijabs on ac­tual Mus­lim women; last year, Ital­ian fash­ion house Dolce & Gab­bana was crit­i­cized for fea­tur­ing its premier collection of hijabs and abayas on light-skinned mod­els who might not even be Mus­lim.)

Where the pit­falls lie, how­ever, is when brands be­gin to rec­og­nize that broad­en­ing their mes­sag­ing and au­di­ence could prove to be re­ally prof­itable.

Take the in­flux of body-pos­i­tive ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns in fash­ion. A cou­ple of years ago, show­ing women with hips and thighs and butts was novel, hon­est and real. (Sim­i­larly, in 2014, Amer­i­can Ea­gle’s lin­gerie line Aerie stopped air­brush­ing mod­els in its ads.) While this is im­por­tant, it loses its cred­i­bil­ity and au­then­tic­ity when it ap­pears to be forced and overly pro­moted — it starts to look like a trend that’s been played to death, when in fact it should just be a nat­u­ral part of ad­ver­tis­ing.

This is an­other rea­son why Dolce & Gab­bana’s first hi­jab/abaya collection failed to res­onate with as many shop­pers as it could have. Mod­els were dressed up in abayas done in daisy, rose, lemon and pol-

This re­lease comes on the heels of Nike’s an­nounce­ment ear­lier this year that it plans to make avail­able next spring a “Pro Hi­jab,” done in black with sig­na­ture Nike “swoosh” logo.

ka-dot prints and ac­cented with lace. Their luxe looks were ac­ces­sorized with state­ment sun­glasses and D& G cock­tail jew­elry — as if to say th­ese pieces weren’t fash­ion­able or im­por­tant un­til now.

It’s no sur­prise, though, that more brands are pay­ing at­ten­tion to Mus­lim women.

For­tune named them “the next big un­tapped fash­ion mar­ket,” ref­er­enc­ing a Thomas Reuters re­port’s pre­dic­tion that their spend­ing is ex­pected to ex­ceed $484 bil­lion by 2019.

Mean­while, at New York Fash­ion Week in Fe­bru­ary, In­done­sian fash­ion de­signer An­niesa Ha­si­buan be­came the first de­signer to show hijabs on the run­way with ev­ery out­fit.

Fash­ion has a bad habit of bor­row­ing from other cul­tures and boil­ing down its ob­ser­va­tions into in­dus­try trends.

(For ex­am­ple: tribal prints, African head wraps, ki­monos or even kitschy yoga tees with “Na­maste In Bed” on them.)

The hi­jab is the lat­est gar­ment that could be wa­tered down for the masses, if de­sign­ers aren’t care­ful.

But those who see its value cul­tur­ally rather than just in cur­rency have a bet­ter chance at get­ting it right.

Fash­ion bor­rows from other cul­tures. Could the hi­jab be fash­ion’s new ac­ces­sory?

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