Saturday, 30 May 2009

Marketing now segments by religion: Muslim(ah)s, Beware!

Disclamer!!! May Allah forgive me for any comments which are incorrect, so any one who will read this, please keep your mind open for a critical point of view. I also do not intend to criticize all the blogger Muslimahs who blog on fashion and hijab styles. This is merely an attempt to show how a new trend of hijab commodification might be taking place, and to bring this as something to reflect on and be aware of. Thank you!

Well, first of all i would like to make a few statements:

1. There are somewhat 1,6 billion muslims in the world. A massive ammount of potential customers for the giant companies, dont you think?
2. "Western" industries and corporations have already started to look for ways how to target this new segment: muslims. Maxi dresses, the lengthy tunics which have been around the market for a couple of years now....rings a bell anyone?
3. Concept of hijab+Concept of fashion=1??? Well there is no shame to take care of one's own self, in fact the Quran says: "Say: Who has forbidden the beautiful [gifts] of Allah, which He has produced for His servants, and the things, cleans and pure, [which He has provided] for sustenance? . . " (7:32). The Quran also makes it clear that moderation is the right way to approach purchasing: "Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just [balance] between those [extremes]" (25:67), which is actually far from what is encouraged by the fashion industry and the behavioural norms encouraged by the consumer society.

This year has been tough on me. In all kind of ways: emotionally, physically and even spiritually challenging as well as financially uncertain. And because of my tighter budget limits... I stoped buying clothes! And alhamdulillah that has been such a blessing! Ive stoped caring as much for whether the clothes I wear are fashionable enough. It opened my eyes to see at this whole time, I was a slave for fashion!!! It opened my eyes to realize that just because I did not update my outfit for about 9 months, I feel the way I dress is somewhat outdated. Can you believe that??? I feel much more confident nowadays, and I feel I do not need a trendy accessory to make my day.

But what I have noticed is... That the fashion dynamics are knocking on hijab's door. Do people even know that brands such as YSL or D&G actually provide the muslim half of the world with a different type of product choice than what they do in the west? Well... Yes...

Here is an article i found posted on Princess Diaries' blog:

I am not going to post the whole article here, but I will comment on selected paragraphs of the article.

"Models strutted down runways in winter in wide-leg pants, bulky jackets, long cardigans and the ever-so controversial keffiyah-like scarves, sometimes wrapped around their heads or trailing off their shoulders. Months later, spring and summer fashions have held on to stylized neck scarves and looser clothing, fitting into the lifestyle of modest women looking for a fashionably-refined appearance."

This illustrates exactly how the fashion industry relates their products and adjust them to the muslim consumers. Some clothes such as the maxi dresses, might be appropriate for the hijab. To illustrate how these clothes are used by muslim women, I will post a video from youtube.

To see comments on whether it is approriate check out Pixie's comment ;)

"But there’s no holding back or even altering looks to fit into a more modest outfit when you can walk into a mosque or wedding wearing a long, flowing Marciano maxi dress under a Marc Jacobs knee-length coat topped with a Chloe head scarf."

Well, this is kind of saddening... To me this resembles of almost picturing Jumu'ah as a fashion show... Is this what they picture muslims urging for: to finaly be able to wear specific too costly brands? Shouldnt one pay for the product quality, not the brand name? I will update this question with a hadith once I get the chance to do so.

"I also think that hijabis should look nice, i.e., I coordinate matching scarves with my clothes, because we stand out as “Muslim,” and I think it’s important to defeat the rumors that Muslim women are suppressed and unhappy.”

Yes, but I do not agree that taking a step away from the concept of hijab, and becoming more fashion oriented will help to show that muslim women are not oppressed. One runs the risk of overspending and a big head ache in front of the mirror trying to look fashionable enough to prove your point. In any case, it is Allah we try to please first of all, is that not right?

In my personal opinion, there is no shame to put in an effort to look pleasant, to match your scarf with the bag or your shoes, that is nice, alhamdulillah! What I think one should avoid, is spending too much time, thoughts and money on the way one looks. The ayat 25:67 illustrates this perfectly. Sara Bokker, who converted to islam, has shared her experience of starting wearing hijab. She felt a great releaf when she did not have to care so much for the way she looked:

"Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer spent all my time consumed with shopping, makeup, getting my hair done, and working out. Finally, I was free"

Her experience with fashion, she describes as:

"I was also caught up in my looks. It cost a lot of time and money to look good. I became a slave to my looks. I was consumed by it all: hairdresser, manicurist, gym, mall, etc. After all, I was how I looked, or so I thought."

I see these two experiences completely opposite. Hijab liberating, and caring too much for your looks oppressive... I really hope hijab will not become another version of this oppression just in a form of a headscarf... Hijab is a right to a womans privacy, it is a right she is given by Allah. I really dont want to see that right being abused in any way.

To read Sara Bokker's stories go to:


Salaam :)))

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